Greens deplore Government’s stand on Bluefin Tuna

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AD, stated Chairperson Arnold Cassola, strongly deplores the government’s
stand against the EU’s proposal to halt for two years the exploitation of the
Bluefin Tuna to ensure that the species is not driven to extinction due to
unsustainable pressure. The population of the breeding tuna in 2007 was only a quarter of the level of that of 50 years ago, most of the decline occuring in recent years.

The Maltese Government’s opposition to the EU Commission proposal, added Carmel Cacopardo AD Spokesman on Sustainable Development and Local Government, not only shows a lack of an environmental commitment but also exposes the government’s willingness to back short term economic profit at the expense of natural resources.The livelihood of Maltese fishermen who use traditional fishing methods is being threatened by such behaviour.

On the basis of the precautionary principle established in International Fora
and enshrined in Malta’s Environment Protection Act, the Maltese Government should have supported the EU’s proposal thereby protecting blue fin tuna from the unscrupulous exploitation by large scale industrial fishing. There is no need to wait for more detailed scientific studies, concluded Carmel Cacopardo, to arrive to the obvious conclusion that unless there is an immediate halt to bluefin tuna exploitation this species will become extinct shortly.

Ralph Cassar
PRO

 

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The Politics of Waste

times_of_malta196x703

by Carmel Cacopardo

pubished September 26, 2009

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WEEE_Waste_II

The Italian Mafia eco threat through the sinking in the Mediterranean of at least 42 ships laden with toxic and nuclear waste has far-reaching implications. The real impact, however, will not be clear for some time until all relative details are known.

Last week, the announcement was made of a settlement relative to the dispute that arose after the dumping in 2006 of some 500 tonnes of toxic waste around Abidjan, the capital city of Ivory Coast. This settlement was denounced by both the association of the victims (31,000 residents of Abidjan) and by the international NGO Greenpeace that described it as an exploitation of African poverty.

Going through e-mails published by Greenpeace in the UK newspaper The Guardian last week, it is clear that at one point the toxic waste that ended up at Abidjan was to be processed at the fuel terminal of La Skhira, Tunisia. It appears however that the Tunisian management asked too many questions after examining a sample of the toxic waste such that other destinations were considered more appropriate!

Within this context it would be reasonable to consider what is being done locally with the toxic waste generated on these islands. I will limit myself to the discarding of electric and electronic equipment in Malta, a source of toxic waste. This is regulated by the provisions of the Waste (from) Electric and Electronic Equipment Directive of the EU. Known as the WEEE Directive, it has been transposed into Maltese law through Legal Notice 63 of 2007, yet, to date, it is not being implemented.

On the basis of the producer responsibility principle, producers of the electrical and electronic equipment placed on the Maltese market, as well as their representatives, are responsible in terms of the WEEE Directive for taking back obsolete/discarded equipment. In the long term this would mean that the design of the equipment is improved thereby facilitating repair, possible upgrading, reuse, disassembly and recycling and, consequently, cut the costs of disposal.

Taking back obsolete/discarded equipment involves a cost. Producers and their representatives are objecting because the government is forcing them to pay twice over for the waste they generate. Since 2004, on the basis of the polluter-pays principle, the government is already charging an eco contribution, which was specifically designed to pay for waste management costs. Subsequently, as a result of the transposition of the WEEE Directive, the responsibility for the managing of WEEE waste was hived off to the private sector. However, the government is still collecting the eco contribution while the private sector is expected to foot the bill for taking back obsolete/discarded electric and electronic equipment.

The government is collecting payment to make good for responsibilities it no longer shoulders. While it has a new role, as a regulator, through WasteServe it still insists on direct involvement. One would have expected this attitude from a government that advocates state intervention but not from one that is prolific on rhetoric relative to the pivotal role of the private sector.

The government’s attitude is impeding the private sector from developing a service, responsibility for which has been specifically assigned to it by EU legislation. This has been going on for the past 30 months and, as a result, most of the waste generated during this time by items listed in the WEEE Directive is unaccounted for.

The WEEE Directive is applicable to: household appliances (small and large), IT and telecommunications equipment, consumer equipment, lightning equipment, electrical and electronic tools, toys, leisure and sports equipment, medical devices, monitoring and control instruments and automatic dispensers.

Consumers are entitled to return to a supplier any obsolete/discarded item to which the WEEE Directive applies. The supplier, on behalf of the producer, will then ensure that the item is reconditioned, recycled or else stripped into its component parts, which can then be reused as raw materials or else appropriately disposed of. This obviously involves an expense that suppliers are entitled to recover by charging the consumer the real cost of waste management. Consumers are, however, already being charged an eco contribution, this being a waste management fee for costs that are not incurred anymore.

Late last year, the EU embarked on a revision of the WEEE Directive. Through this revision the EU aims to fine-tune the provisions of the directive such that it is more effective. In Malta, having not yet initiated implementation of the WEEE Directive, we are in the ridiculous situation of having a government that proclaims it is environment friendly but then whenever possible goes out of its way to torpedo the implementation of the environmental acqui.

It is the importers who are now directly responsible for implementing the provisions of the WEEE Directive. However, this does not exonerate the government whose double charging for WEEE waste is clearly the sole reason for WEEE’s non-implementation in Malta.

list of posts on nuclear energy on this blog

September 21,  2009 :   Nuclear Power in Sicily – The Greens in Malta comment.

August 10, 2008 :  Solar Energy comes free and safe.

July 30, 2008 : Politika tan-ngħam.

July 28, 2008 : Impjant Nuklejari f’Malta ?

July 26, 2008 : Nuclear Neighbours Betrayed.

July 24, 2008 : Incident nukleari iehor fi Franza.

July 20, 2008 : Accident iehor f’impjant nuklejari gewwa Franza.

July 10, 2008 : Accident Nukleari fi Franza .

June 25, 2008 : Is-sandwich nukleari jkompli jikber.

June 15, 2008 : A Nuclear Sandwich in the Mediterranean.

June 9, 2008 : F’Krško evitat incident nukleari.

May 25, 2008 : Sandwich bejn il-Libya u l-Italja

Nuclear Power in Sicily – The Greens in Malta comment

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Press Statement of AD – The Green Party in Malta

According to a ‘secret list’ of ten possible sites leaked to Italian paper  Metro, the localities of Palma and Termini Imerese in Sicily are included as  possible sites for the construction of a nuclear power station in Sicily.

Arnold Cassola, AD Chairperson, stated: “It would seem that the Sicilian  Governor Lombardo has already given the go ahead for the siting of a nuclear plant in Sicily. The Maltese government should wake up from its slumber and ask Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi and Sicilian Governor Lombardo to inform the Maltese authorities immediately of what is happening.”

Carmel Cacopardo AD Spokesman on Sustainable Development and Local Government stated that AD had already in Summer 2008 drawn attention to discussions between the Maltese and Italian Prime Ministers on nuclear issues. Then the Maltese Government had denied reports published in Il Sole 24 Ore about a Berlusconi proposal to site a nuclear power station in Malta. The Espoo Convention (dealing with Environmental Impacts  in a Transboundary Context) incorporated in the Environmental Impact Assessment Directive of the European Union, added Carmel Cacopardo, obliges the Italian Government to carry out consultations not just with the Government of Malta but also with the Maltese public through a public hearing on the contents of an Environmental Impact Assessment. The transboundary impacts of a nuclear power station around 200 km  away from our shores can be substantial. It therefore needs to be ensured that all impacts are thoroughly examined in the EIA which eventually will have to be made available for the public’s information and consideration.

It is hoped, concluded Arnold Cassola, that the Maltese Government will take the diplomatic initiative to ensure that Malta’s interests are protected.

The eco-threat of the Italian Mafia

 times_of_malta196x703

by Carmel Cacopardo

published September 19, 2009

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The revelation by Francesco Fonti that the Calabria Mafia sank a number of ships in the Mediterranean carrying a cargo of nuclear and toxic waste confirmed what the international environmental non-governmental organisation Greenpeace has been stating for a number of years.

The cargo on board these ships (which could number as many as 42) is of direct concern to Malta. The environmental crime of dumping this toxic and nuclear waste could have already affected (without our knowing) Malta’s water supply as well as the fish we eat and the seawater we swim in.

Whether and to what extent the food chain was contaminated is difficult to ascertain at this stage unless the relevant authorities are in a position to explain whether over the years fish and water (including sea-water) were sampled and tested for chemical contamination. Hopefully, such monitoring, sampling and testing was carried out. At this stage no information is forthcoming as to the type of toxic wastes dumped nor whether the waste dumped is still contained or else whether it has dispersed. The exact location of the dumping and the sea currents prevalent in the area would also be of extreme relevance.

Toxic contamination does not necessarily kill immediately. It may block or distort a number of our natural activities.

In the foreword to the book Our Stolen Future by Theo Colborn, Diane Dumanoski and John Peterson Myers, former US Vice President Al Gore speaks of  “a large and growing body of scientific evidence linking synthetic chemicals to aberrant sexual development and behavioural and reproductive problems. Although much of the evidence these scientific studies review is for animal populations and ecological effects, there are important implications for human health as well”.

Reference to three examples would serve to illustrate the nature of the threats.

President Jimmy Carter on August 7, 1978 had declared a state of emergency at Love Canal. A landfill containing over 21,000 tons of chemical waste dumped in the 1940s and the beginning of the 1950s caused the contamination of residential and educational environments and resulted in miscarriages, birth defects, respiratory ailments and cancer. Fifty-six per cent of children born in the Love Canal environs between 1974 and 1978 had a birth defect. This led the US to enact the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act known as the Superfund in the last days of the Carter Presidency.

In early 2008 in Italy it was found that buffalo mozzarella originating from some 83 dairy farms in an area near Naples was tainted with dioxin. The buffalo were grazing in an area of illegal dumps of toxic waste controlled by the Mafia. Dioxin can cause birth defects and organ failure.

On May 31, 1989 a beluga whale was found floating belly up near Pointe-aux-Cenelles close to Quebec, Canada. An autopsy carried out on the whale revealed that it had both a male and a female set of genital organs. It was a hermaphrodite. This was eventually traced to pollution-induced hormone disruption which derailed the beluga whale’s normal course of sexual development. “One cannot rule out,” noted the autopsy report “that pollutants present in the mother’s diet had interfered with hormonal processes (guiding the) normal evolution of the sexual organs of her foetus”. The beluga whale is a mammal like the human being.

The above examples point to the possible consequences of the Mafia eco-threat.

Sixty per cent of our water originates from the sea. Fish roam about the Mediterranean Sea including contaminated areas. Pollution will not respect borders.

All of us would be more at ease if we are informed of the measures being taken by the public authorities to shield us from these threats.

original article at   The Times

Mushrooming of the eco-island

times_of_malta196x703

by Carmel Cacopardo

published on Saturday September 5, 2009

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Assessment of the environmental impacts of projects commenced in the United States of America in the wake of the publication of Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring. It was taken up by the World Bank in the early 1970s, with the European Union following in the early 1980s.

Environmental impact assessments carried out for statutory purposes ought to be the instrument through which the community gauges whether and to what extent negative impacts of projects can be mitigated.

From this basic premise it ought to be clear that the loyalty of those carrying out the environmental assessment of projects ought to be towards the community, which, through the relevant authorities, considers whether to authorise a particular development. In a small jurisdiction as Malta this is not always the way matters proceed, as can be illustrated through countless examples.

A case in point is the new Nadur cemetery at Għajn Qasab, which was the subject of a hydrological study. The submitted study did not identify that the area to be excavated served as the route through which underground water was filtered naturally. In addition to natural filtering, the area to be excavated served as a natural underground water store collecting the rainwater and releasing it slowly through the sides of the hill throughout all the months of the year.

This continuous supply of water attracted farmers to Għajn Qasab over the last 200 years and more since the time when these islands were administered by the Knights. As a result, over the years they have developed one of the best citrus groves on the islands.

The geologist who submitted the Nadur hydrological report was selected by the applicant (the Nadur parish priest), who paid him for his services. His appointment was accepted by Mepa, which considered him suitable for carrying out the hydrological study.

Partly on the basis of this hydrological report, a permit was issued by Mepa and the area has now been excavated. As a result, the ruin of the Għajn Qasab farmers’ community has commenced.

Their fields were supplied with natural flowing water all the year round until the Nadur parish priest commenced his project. Now that the excavation has been carried out, water supply is murky, not percolating through the excavated geological strata. The farmers have a substantially reduced supply of natural water in the dry months. Their agricultural output will, as a result, be substantially reduced.

The obvious conclusion is that the Church in Gozo is contributing towards the ecological ruin of Gozo.

Another project in Gozo is now making the headlines. It is a mushroom factory proposed to be sited very close to the Għarb residential area.

Once the development of dwellings has been permitted by the authorities, it stands to reason that they should not allow, within a reasonable distance, any other development that conflicts with the residential character of the area.

But will they?

The application pending before Mepa is to relocate an existing mushroom factory from Xewkija to Ta’ Dbieġi (application PA5707/07).

The site within the boundaries of Kerċem and having an area of 14,000 square metres lies just a few metres from the residences in Triq Franġisk Portelli, Għarb, and 220 metres away from the five-star Kempinski Hotel at San Lawrenz!

Perusal of the project description statement (PDS) explains the background to the proposed development. In brief, the owner of the factory needs to be more competitive. As a result, he has been advised to move to a purposely-designed factory.

In addition, he has been advised that, rather than importing quantities of animal manure from Holland, Belgium and Italy to be used in the substrate for the production of his mushrooms, he should make use of chicken manure available locally, to the tune of 22,000 kilograms per week.

This manure has to be transported from the chicken farms to the proposed mushroom factory site at Għarb.

The Kempinski Hotel, as well as the Ta’ Dbieġi crafts village, will, in a spirit of solidarity, also have a fair share of the available odours as they lie on or are very close to the access path.

We are informed in the PDS that by making use of this manure the developer of the project, in addition to being more competitive, would in effect be recycling animal waste and in addition would be lending a helping hand in Malta’s complying to the Nitrate Directive of the EU.

While this may be correct it should not lead to the adoption of the Għarb site but rather to the selection of a site very close to existing chicken farms. As a number of such farms are on the other side of Gozo one wonders as to the criteria used in the site selection exercise! But then, maybe, it is the intention of the project to share the odours along the route.

What’s next from the eco island?