Victories in Jamaica and Ukraine

January 10, 2007 Dear friends, The New Year is off to a good start! We made exciting progress saving Jamaica’s largest contiguous forest from a potentially devastating mining project and helped provide clean water to a community in western Ukraine. “Cockpit Country, Jamaica, is probably our most significant remaining natural resource,” says ELAW partner Diana McCaulay, Director of the Jamaica Environment Trust. This internationally recognized treasure holds vast groundwater reserves and is a cultural landmark -- it is the place where the Maroons sought refuge and fought the British to a standstill. The Alcoa and Clarendon Alumina companies propose to prospect for bauxite in Cockpit Country. Diana called on ELAW for information about Alcoa`s spotty track record cleaning up a bauxite mine in Western Australia, as well as information about the real impacts of bauxite mining, and reclamation requirements from around the world. When Jamaica’s Minister of Agriculture and Lands issued permits to begin prospecting, JET challenged his decision. In response, the Minister agreed to suspend both licenses, pending meetings with civil society stakeholders. “We are working to have Cockpit Country declared a no-mining zone,” says Diana. In Ukraine, ELAW partners at Environment People Law (EPL) are helping the residents of Drohobych get clean water. Since the early 1900`s, a petroleum refinery has polluted groundwater in an area where residents still rely on their own wells for drinking water. EPL obtained data showing that groundwater in this section of the city contains elevated levels of phenols. ELAW prepared a health risk assessment showing why these levels of contamination would render the groundwater undrinkable, a document that EPL translated into Ukrainian and submitted to the court. In December, the local court ordered the city to immediately supply residents with clean water and build central water and sewage systems. EPL’s lead attorney on the case, Liza Aleksyeyeva, wrote: “I want to express my special thanks to Mark Chernaik [ELAW scientist] who prepared an affidavit on the human health risk of pollutant levels in Drohobych.” In the year ahead we will keep you informed of these and other inspiring victories in Jamaica, Ukraine, and around the world. Thank you for your support! Sincerely, Bern Johnson Executive Director Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide