• Channel 5 summary of dismissal of BACONGO case on decisions of PUC about the Chalillo dam
  • The Guardian's summary of the issues in the Chalillo Dam situation
  • The Privy Council of London, which serves as Belize’s highest court of appeal, has heard its first environmental case since it was established 500 years ago. The appeal, which challenged the approval of a flawed Environmental Impact Assessment, was brought by advocates in Belize. seeking to protect the Macal River valley from the ill-advised Chalillo Dam project. The appeal was rejected in January, by a vote of 3-2, but represented an important milestone for advocates in Belize and around the world seeking a wider audience for their campaign to protect Belize’s rainforests.
  • The 3,000 residents of the Placencia Peninsula support themselves with small-scale tourist businesses and the bounty of the sea. Community members have teamed up with BELPO to challenge a massive resort development that promises little benefit for local residents.
  • After more than a decade of struggle with the Government of Belize, the customary land rights of the Maya people in southern Belize have been affirmed by the Supreme Court of Belize.
  • Amandala article by Janelle Chanona about Chalillo Dam, 1/7/2008 Those conditions included that the public be informed, and as Conteh pointed out in court, it was unfair for the company to conclude that everyone “was a traveler on the information superhighway,” and moreover, the ECP had specifically stipulated that radio advertisements were to be used in the public education campaign. As for the information sessions, the CJ again took issue with the fact that no such forum was held in San Ignacio, even though again, that was a definite requirement of the ECP. Within that context, the judge went on to order that emergency plans be printed and placed in public buildings in Cristo Rey, San Ignacio and Santa Elena for easy access; early warning systems are to be tested routinely for effectiveness, especially in the hurricane season; mercury and water quality levels are to be reported to the public periodically; and BECOL is to establish efficient communication channels with residents, specifically through the Public Participation Committee. In delivering his ruling, the Chief Justice declared, “Chalillo is operational, but it is never too late to give out information.” This morning, Gonzalez expressed relief at the outcome of the case and contended that the entire matter could have been avoided if only BECOL had answered their letters of concern. Those letters and other correspondence had pointed to the river’s appearance, its smell, rashes that appeared on the skin after bathing and fear that the fish being eaten by residents were unsafe. As for BECOL’s attorney, Michael Young, he believes that while his clients were found delinquent in specific instances, the company has not been deemed irresponsible and in fact, has even gone beyond the call of duty in other aspects of the ECP at their own financial costs. But most significantly, Young says, the outcome of this case sends an important message to all developers, especially since BECOL’s ECP was the very first to be issued to a developer following an Environmental Impact Assessment. “This is to show that you need to virtually put the ECP on a table and ensure …that each one of the requirements is ticked off so that you know you are in compliance. If you have difficulty, you need to write to the Department of Environment, because there are times that what the ECP requires might be practically even impossible to accomplish, so you need to have that paper trail.” The Chief Justice also ordered today that BECOL and DOE jointly pay $15,000 in costs of court to Gonzalez and her group. Conteh maintained that even though this was the first ECP, and therefore unchartered territory for BECOL, the litigation could have been avoided if the company had made timely responses to the requests for information. The DOE was represented in the proceedings by Crown Counsel, Priscilla Banner. (Author’s NOTE: “Construction on the Vaca Dam by Chinese contractors, Sino-Hydro, is underway, and expected to be completed late 2009.)
  • BELPO, acting on behalf of people and communities downstream of the dam projects, charged that the Department of Environment failed to monitor and ensure adherence to the Environmental Compliance Plan (ECP) for the Chalillo Dam. Read the article published in the Star on July 5, 2009.
  • Today heavy hitting environmental alliance BACONGO added its voice to the chorus of disapproval of the secrecy, which now surrounds the National Environmental Appraisal Committee (NEAC).
  • The water being released from the Chalillo Dam is unfit for human consumption and cannot be properly disinfected due to the high levels of turbidity, according to Professor Guy Lanza of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, U.S.A.
  • Recognizing the fact that our World Heritage Site is in danger is an important first step in improving our efforts to save it. The potential for our inclusion on the "World Heritage in Danger" list is a positive thing, presenting both an opportunity and a challenge. Much of the attention over the last week has focused on a perceived "threat" to the tourism industry from a danger listing – but this is not likely.