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International Update Volume 41, Issue 6

SOUTH AFRICA TO SPEND $168 MILLION ON ACID CLEANUP

South Africa

South Africa will spend 1.2 billion rand to clean up the acidic water that threatens to spill out of gold mines near Johannesburg. The network of abandoned mines that surrounds and underlies Johannesburg stretches for miles, and the mix of chemicals filling the flooded tunnels will affect the country for years, according to a report released by the Department of Water Affairs. Water flooding the tunnels has reacted with billion-year-old rocks to produce heavy metals, sulfuric acid, and radiation.

INDIA ALLOWS CONTROVERSIAL STEEL PROJECT

India

Environment minister Jairam Ramesh has fallen under heavy criticism from environmentalists and tribal rights activists after granting clearance to the Korean giant Pohang Iron and Steel Company to build a $12 billion steel plant in Orissa. The 12 million ton capacity plant was approved in 2007, but faced project-stalling opposition from tribal populations in possession of the necessary lands and from environmental groups concerned about the effects of the plant.

AUSTRALIA LIKELY TO CHARGE CARBON POLLUTERS IN 2012

Australia

The government of Australia tried for a third time last week to charge for carbon emissions, releasing a new fixed-price plan to start in 2012. Prime Minister Julia Girrard said that carbon polluters would pay a fixed price starting in July 2012, then move to a market-based system within the next five years. The move faces opposition from conservative parties, who describe it as a "great big new tax." In addition, crucial details, such as the starting price, have yet to be agreed with the Greens.