Panama Canal Expansion Program 2010, Environment Protection
In compliance with its commitment to protect and preserve the environment, the ACP along with the contractors for each component of the program and in coordination with Panama’s National Environmental Authority (ANAM), conducts wildlife rescue and relocation operations as it progresses in the various projects being executed under the Expansion Program.
These activities are developed from the early stages of work planning following a Rescue and Relocation Plan for each specific area before conducting any clearing or grubbing activities. To date, animals including mammals, amphibians and reptiles, among them crocodiles, turtles and sloths, have been rescued and relocated as part of this effort.
As part of the ecological compensation for the first three dry-excavation contracts and Gatun Lake dredging, the ACP, jointly with ANAM, has reforested 415 hectares nationwide. For 2010, the ACP has an additional 150 hectares scheduled for reforestation in different areas of the country.
By the first quarter of 2010, the ACP had also already paid ANAM $2,415,254 as ecological compensation for the execution of the Expansion Program. Consortium Grupo Unidos por el Canal, which is responsible for the design and construction of the Third Set of Locks, has paid Panama’s Aquatic Resources Authority (ARAP) the amount of $499,000 for the reforestation of mangrove areas.
Fulfilling its responsibility to provide information about the Expansion Program, and in compliance with Law 28 of July 17, 2006, the ACP submits quarterly reports on the progress achieved to the Executive Branch, the National Assembly, the Republic’s Controller General, the Ad-hoc Committee (formed by members of civil society) and the multilateral financing agencies.
The contents of these reports can be accessed on the ACP Internet page www.pancanal.com for public consultation. Fourteen reports have been published as of the first quarter of 2010.
The ACP also often receives visits by government officials and other organizations seeking to learn first-hand about program progress. Expansion work has also caught the interest of different sectors of the civil society, including university students, professionals, foreign visitors, workers, businessmen and diplomats.
Regarding the environmnet, the ACP has established strict environmental surveillance and monitoring based on a five-level structure to guarantee compliance with program environmental commitments.
This structure is formed by contractor environmental personnel, ACP environmental surveillance personnel, the independent consultant responsible for compliance evaluations and reports, and the international multilateral financing agencies, for which reports on local and international environmental requirement compliance shall be issued. ANAM is Panama government’s monitoring agency.
The environmental surveillance and monitoring is conducted in coordination with ANAM, which receives biannual reports on the environmental development of the program and conducts joint inspections. To date, two main environmental compliance reports have been submitted to ANAM on the overall Expansion Program and more than 12 joint inspections have been conducted.
Paleontological and Archaeological Studies
In January 2009, the ACP renewed its contract with the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) to locate and analyze paleontological findings on the sites of the Third Set of Locks project.
As a result of this agreement, a paleontological potential map for the Panama Canal Area was developed. Based on this map, a series of paleontological rescue activities have been conducted on the site of the future Gatun Locks on the Atlantic side and in the area of Cartagena Hill on the Pacific side.
The ACP has continued conducting the technical evaluation of archaeological findings in the expansion areas. To date, the inventory of findings includes arrows dating from the pre-Columbian era and bottles from the beginning of the 20th century, which are being used to document the pre-Columbian and historical reality on this side of the country.
Archaeological findings are assessed and registered after they are categorized through bibliographic searches, photographed and analyzed according to their importance and historical relevance.
All the information is gathered in a results analysis report that is submitted as official correspondence to Panama’s National Cultural Institute (INAC) Historical Patrimony Bureau for registration and archive and for use as reference material.
When Panamanians cast their vote on October 22, 2006 to support the ACP’s plan to develop the colossal Canal Expansion Program, a commitment to training was immediately endorsed.
The government took advantage of this opportunity to launch a program through which the National Institute for Professional Education and Human Resources Development (INADEH, its acronym in Spanish) would train the workforce that would be required for the program. This training has contributed to meeting the Expansion Program’s labor demand, which for the locks project alone will require nearly 7,500 skilled workers.
Up to February 2010, the Expansion Program had already generated some 3,282 employments among the contracts already completed and those currently under execution.
The Canal organization, in cooperation with INADEH, has now launched the training of the work force it will require within the next few years, especially on skilled positions such as explosives experts and heavy equipment operators.
On October 14, 2008, then Panama President Martin Torrijos Espino announced the Cabinet Council’s authorization for the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) to negotiate the required $2,300 million financial support for the expansion of the waterway with a group of multilateral and bilateral credit organizations.
From the beginning of 2007 through December 2009, the ACP administration conducted negotiations for the financing of the Expansion Program, always keeping the ACP Board of Directors informed and maintaining close coordination with a liaison group designated by the Executive Branch.
After being authorized by the Cabinet Council, the ACP Board of Directors proceeded to approve the signing of financial support contracts.
Source: Panama Canal Authority, June 22, 2010