An Australian mining consultant has been hired to conduct an aerial geological survey of the proposed route of Nicaragua’s controversial interoceanic canal.
Using airborne laser radar, consultant CSA Global will probe a 10-km-wide path along the 276km route connecting the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, plus the circumference of Lake Nicaragua.
The survey is a major step in the construction development process and supports pre-works planning, design and engineering for the canal and infrastructure– John Murray, HKND Group
The laser can penetrate dense forests to map topography, see through water to the lake bed, and detect materials up to 200m below ground surface level, according to canal developer, China’s HKND Group, who awarded CSA Global the survey contract on 19 August.
The layered maps produced will help detailed construction planning and design, and help minimise the environmental impact of digging the canal, HKND said in a statement.
Survey work will be carried out between September 2015 and March 2016.
The laser can penetrate dense forests, water, and ground (CSA Global)
"The survey is a major step in the construction development process and supports pre-works planning, design and engineering for the canal and infrastructure," stated senior advisor of HKND Group, John Murray.
CSA Global’s appointment comes as the Nicaraguan public continues to wait for the government of President Daniel Ortega to rule on a detailed environmental and social impact assessment of the canal submitted by HKND at the end of May.
Scientists in the country are concerned about the environmental impact of the canal, and have called for international backing to ensure that impact assessments are conducted according to international standards, and are made public.
The canal, on which heavy work is yet to begin, is supported by many Nicaraguans hoping for jobs and economic development.
But it has also sparked protests among people living along its proposed route who fear they will not be adequately compensated for giving up their land and homes.