Environmental concerns delay start to Nicaragua canal

Construction on the $50bn Nicaragua Canal has been pushed back to the first quarter of 2016 due to new environmental mitigation measures, a project official has said.

Paul Oquist, executive director of the government’s canal commission, said that four additional studies to identify new mitigation requirements had been recommended by UK-based Environmental Resources Management, one of the canal’s environmental assessment contractors.

"We and (Nicaragua president Daniel Ortega) have made the decision that all studies recommended by the environmental groups have to be undertaken," Oquist said yesterday in Washington, DC at a forum sponsored by the Council of the Americas, according to IHS Maritime 360.

Oquist added: "No stone will be left unturned in terms of the environmental elements."

The surprise announcement will be welcomed by scientists who have criticised the quality of ERM’s work in compiling the environmental impact study.

The new 2016 start period will include solicitation of bidding briefs for dredging, excavation, the locks, and two new ports to be built as part of the project, reported IHS Maritime 360.

Photograph: Building the canal involves dredging a deeper channel through Lake Nicaragua, which scientists fear will cause serious environmental damage (Zach Klein/Wikimedia Commons)

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