July 15th, 2014 (InsideCostaRica.com) The Government of Costa Rica is demanding assurances that the planned $40 billion “mega canal” in Nicaragua will not affect the flow or navigability of the San Juan and Colorado rivers.
Foreign Minister, Manuel Gonzalez sent a communiqué yesterday to his counterpart in Nicaragua, in which Costa Rica calls for environmental impact studies of the plan.
The planned canal, which would be three times longer than the Panama Canal, would be able to accommodate ships up to 400,000 tons and would expect annual traffic of 5,100 vessels that would make the 30-hour journey through the canal, according to information provided by Nicaraguan authorities.
“Costa Rica expects Nicaragua to send cross-border environmental impact studies and any other relevant technical studies, before any work begins, stating that [the canal] will not affect Costa Rica,” Gonzalez said in a note to his Nicaraguan counterpart.
“In particular, [the studies] must prove that the volume of water from the Colorado River will not be affected as the result of possible lower water levels in the Rio San Juan,” the note adds.
Costa Rica also expressed its concern over accidents such as spills from oil tankers traversing the canal.
Concerns have even been raised in Nicaragua, where environmentalists and even some Nicaraguan politicians have questioned the project’s potential impact on the environment and the lack of experience of its Chinese developer with large infrastructure projects. Environmentalists are especially concerned because the canal will affect Lake Nicaragua. With an area of 8,264 square kilometers, the lake is the largest in Central America and an important source of fresh water.
The developers of the canal said last year that “Nicaragua will become by far the richest country in Central America — and that will affect the entire region,” as a result of the canal.