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The protection of water resources is ruled by National Decree 674/89 modified in part by Decree 776/92 on waste effluents discharged into sewage systems or water coursesâ€¦The territory of application is the City of Buenos Aires and the districts of the Province of Buenos Aires. (Consoli et al). This applies to facilities that are in the territory of application, which create waste effluents originated in the discharge of said effluents into sewage systems, rain drains or water courses, which may contaminate the water sources, damage Waterworks, installations or affect the public health. Industrial plants and facilities subject to this decree must have duly authorized effluent treatment plants and are required to file an annual affidavit that holds all the data required by the relevant regulation. This also establishes certain prohibitions like the release of effluent exceeding the tolerated contamination levels, the discharge of effluent without previous authorization, the discharge of effluent in public places and the storage of solid wastes which may contaminate surface or underground water.
Law 20.284 establishes rules to determine air quality and the allowed concentration of pollutants. It includes motor vehicles, machinery, equipment, facilities’ installations and incinerators, emitting substances which may produce atmospheric contamination. If not followed, subject to fines or temporary or total closure of the polluting source. Law 24.040-the control of substances which deplete the ozone, rules on the use and trade of CFC’s.
Law 24.051rules the generation, transport, handling, treatment and final disposal of hazardous waste, establishing duties, responsibilities and liabilities of generators, operators and transporters of waste. Law 24.051 is a local law but it is followed by the whole national territory (Nonna). A hazardous waste is any waste that can damage living beings or contaminate land, water, air or the environment. Individuals and legal entities subject to this law (generators, transporters and operators of hazardous waste) have to register with the National Registry of Hazardous Waste Generators and Operators. They need to do this to be able to receive the annual environmental certificate that allows them to operate.
Waste generators have to pay a levy. The levy is calculated by how hazardous the waste is, and how much is generated.
Hazardous waste can only go from the generator to the transporter. It has to be with a ‘manifest’ that contains all the data identifying the generator. The transporter cannot: 1) mix hazardous waste with other waste or with incompatible hazardous waste; 2) store hazardous waste for more than ten days; or 3) transport, transfer or deliver waste not properly packed.
Authorizations are for ten year for the operation of these plants. But they have to have annual renewals of the environmental certificate. They must keep a permanent operation record that follows the requirements established by authority.
Vast reserves of natural gas and oil trapped underground, whose exploitation would signify major environmental impacts, will be the greatest challenge facing YPF, the Argentine oil company that recently returned to state control.
The study assessed the viability of 48 shale gas basins in 32 countries and estimated Argentina’s shale gas reserves at 774 (TCF), 60 times greater than the country’s current conventional reserves.
The shale gas formations are in four basins, but the Neuquén basin is the most promising. This is where the Vaca Muerta and Los Molles formations are found, which stretch across the subsoil of four provinces: Neuquén and Mendoza, in western Argentina, La Pampa in the centre of the country, and Río Negro in the centre-south.
The report states that, although there is a ‘high degree of uncertainty,’ studies by the Undersecretariat of Mines and Hydrocarbons of Neuquén estimate that there are 170 TCF of recoverable gas in the Vaca Muerta formation and between 130 and 192 TCF in Los Molles. The exploitation of these reserves would significantly increase gas production, create employment and promote the development of new technologies, but would also take a heavy toll on the environment.
This is the dilemma facing the new YPF, after the expropriation of 51 percent of its shares, which were held by the Spanish oil company Repsol until the May 3 passage of the bill that President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner submitted to Congress on Apr. 16.
YPF, created by the Argentine government in 1922, has thus returned to state control as a private corporation with a majority stake owned by the government and the rest held by national and foreign private companies and stockholders.
The article, ‘Gas y petróleo no conventional: Perspectives’ y desafíos para su desarrollo en Argentina’ (Unconventional Gas and Oil: Prospects and challenges for their development in Argentina), outlines the opportunities offered by exploitation of these resources, but warns that the effects on the environment pose serious questions.
A report published in October 2011 by the National Academy of Engineering of Argentina, ‘Gas de reservorios no convencionales: Estado de situación y principales desafíos’ (Gas from Unconventional Sources: Current situation and key challenges), concurs with the warnings voiced by Matranga and Gutman.
*The writer is an IPS correspondent. This story was originally published by Latin American newspapers that are part of the Tierramérica network. Tierramérica is a specialised news service produced by IPS with the backing of the United Nations Development Programme, United Nations Environment Programme and the World Bank.
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The following statistics give perspective to the ongoing environmental sustainability situation in Argentina:
â€¢ Disappearances of Forests: In 1914, there were 105 million hectares; since 2005 there is an estimated 33 million remaining hectares of forest
â€¢ Increase in Pesticides: In 1991, agriculture reported using 40 million liters of pesticides; by 1997 that number had grown to 100 million liters
â€¢ High Levels of Lead: In the province of Jujuy, 59 percent of children from the Abra Pampas have an unsafe amount of lead in their blood; the impact to local flora and fauna is unknown
â€¢ The burning of forests generates more greenhouse gases than motor vehicles
â€¢ Since 1985, the amount of sulfur dioxide in the atmosphere has increased by 140 percent; whereas carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide, and particulates have increased 60, 56 and 100 percent, respectively
â€¢ Since 1914, two-thirds of Argentina’s native forests have been destroyed. If this destruction continues unchecked, all of Argentina’s native forests will be gone by the year 2024.
One of the big challenges facing the Argentine government in its plans to regain state control of the country’s biggest oil firm, YPF, is to make up for the time lost under private management, when production and exploration fell.
President Cristina Fernandez decreed intervention of the YPF board and sent Congress a bill Monday Apr. 16 to expropriate 51 percent of the shares of the company, which is controlled by Spanish energy firm Repsol.
The move radically changes the country’s energy scenario. YPF, founded as Yacimientos Petrolíferos Fiscales (‘State Petroleum Reserves’) by the Argentine state in 1922, is the largest oil and gas producer in the country. It was privatised in two stages, in 1993 and 1999, under the administrations of former president Carlos Menem (1989-1999).
Since then the state has held less than one percent of the shares of YPF.
Félix Herrero, the vice president of the movement for the recovery of Argentina’s energy sovereignty (MORENO), told IPS he was in ‘complete agreement’ with the bill, which declares the achievement of self-sufficiency in oil and gas to be ‘in the public interest’ in order to ‘guarantee economic development with social equity.’
In Lamothe’s view, the government has waited too long to take action on an energy policy that has been failing to encourage investment. ‘The authorities allowed most of the profits to be transferred abroad, and now there is an eight-year backlog in investments,’ he complained.
He added that the future state-controlled company would have to move towards a model of partnerships with the private sector in order to fund necessary investments. And he thought it was premature to celebrate the government’s move this week.
At the unveiling of the initiative, Fernández said YPF would continue to be a ‘sociedad anónima’ or public limited company, with private participation. ‘I want to make it clear that this is not nationalisation, but the restoration of sovereignty and control over an essential instrument,’ she said.
She maintained that Argentina’s plan ‘is not a new invention,’ and ran through a list of industrialised and developing countries where the state controls the oil and gas industry. For example, she noted that in Brazil, the public sector owns 51 percent of oil giant Petrobras.
But on this point, Herrero said, the president ‘is mistaken.’ Constitutionally, the Brazilian state cannot own more than 51 percent of Petrobras, and actually owns 32 percent, while the rest of the company is in the hands of federal states, the state-owned National Development Bank (BANDES), workers’ mutual funds and private individuals and corporations, he said.
Aging diesel buses may be the primary culprit in deteriorating urban air quality, but private vehicles (some still using leaded gasoline) and taxis contribute more than their share (some taxis and private vehicles, though, burn natural gas). Superannuated factories, with their subsidized smokestacks, are another source.
A different sort of air pollution is the deterioration of the antarctic ozone layer, which has exposed both humans and livestock in far southern Argentina to ultraviolet radiation in summer. Though ozone depletion is a global problem over which Argentines have little control, they suffer the consequences of the growing ozone hole.
Just as motor vehicles cause urban air pollution, they also produce most of its noise pollution, due partly to inadequate mufflers. According to one study, vehicular noise accounts for 80 percent of noise levels that, at corners like Rivadavia and Callao in Buenos Aires, exceed 80 decibels. Buses and motorcycles are the worst offenders.
Drinking water is normally potable, but a historical legacy of polluted waterways derives from, first, the proliferation of European livestock on the pampas, followed by the processing of hides and livestock, and then by heavy industry. The textbook case is Buenos Aires’s Riachuelo, in the working-class barrio of La Boca, which more closely resembles sludge than water; its bottom sediments, thanks to chemical runoff from factories here and in nearby Avellaneda, are an even greater toxic hazard. The construction of riverside pulp plants in Uruguay continues to be a hot-button issue in Entre Ríos Province, but this is a complex issue characterized by much cynical posturing on the Argentine side.
Buenos Aires and other cities produce prodigious amounts of garbage-Buenos Aires alone, for instance, generates 5,000 tons of solid waste per day. The capital ships its garbage as far away as the city of Olavarría, 400 kilometers to the southwest, but a new law stipulates that it will reduce the waste sent to landfills by half by 2012, and by 75 percent by 2017.
Sidewalk pickups take place daily, but in the aftermath of the 2002 economic crisis, garbage-strewn streets became more common because of spontaneous recycling by cartoneros who ripped open plastic bags in search of reusable materials like cardboard. There’s another dark side to this recycling, as some cartoneros-apparently in league with criminal elements-have also absconded with valuable metals covering utility boxes and other similar objects accessible from the street. Sold and melted into ingots of bronze and other metals, these are almost untraceable.
Another sort of solid waste is even more problematic. Greenpeace Argentina has protested an agreement with Australia to import that country’s nuclear waste for reprocessing near the Buenos Aires suburb of Ezeiza. Argentina’s constitution prohibits storage of nuclear waste, though Argentina has its own 357-megawatt Atucha I reactor near the town of Lima, northwest of the capital.
Mismanagement and disinvestment are threatening Argentina’s self-sufficiency in fossil fuels, so that the country is now having to import natural gas, at above-market prices, from Bolivia. The country does have hydroelectric resources in the subtropical north and along the Andean foothills, but Argentine governments have promoted nuclear power since the 1950s. While the country has renounced any intention to build nuclear weapons, the 357-megawatt Atucha I reactor has powered the capital’s electrical grid since 1974. For much of the time since then it has operated at reduced capacity thanks partly to cheaper hydroelectricity, but also due to inadequate maintenance; the controlling Comisión Nacional de Energía Atómica (CNEA, National Atomic Energy Commission) is not known for its transparency. Atucha I is due to close in 2014.
Even hydroelectricity is no panacea, as the creation of the massive Yacyretá dam along the Paraguayan border in Corrientes Province may be raising water levels in the Iberá marshlands; this could sever the “floating islands,” on which their wildlife depends, from their anchoring soils. Similarly, upstream water diversions on the Río Iguazú could affect the flow over the spectacular falls that are one of the continent’s greatest natural features.
Centuries of livestock impacts, both grazing and trampling, have caused serious erosion even in areas where there were never native forests, such as the pampas and the Patagonian steppes. Even today, some forested national parks-most notably Lanín and Los Glaciares-have been unable to eliminate grazing within their boundaries. There has been pressure to create presumably sustainable forest-exploitation projects in the Magellanic woodlands of Tierra del Fuego.
The hot-button forest issues, though, are in the northern subtropical forests. In Misiones Province, agricultural colonists and commercial tea and yerba mate plantations have cut over much of the selva misionera, a diverse, wildlife-rich rain forest that cannot easily reestablish itself when its natural recycling mechanisms are disturbed. In Jujuy and Salta Provinces, the yungas cloud forest on the edge of the Andes has already suffered deforestation from construction of a nearly pointless natural gas pipeline over the Andes to Chile, and from widespread clear-cutting to extract just a few prize timber species.
Research in Argentina has shown that deforestation due to agricultural expansion of soybean is threatening the Yungas ‘cloud forest’, and the Chaco ecoregion, one of the largest forested biomes (a major regional group of distinctive plant and animal communities) in South America.
In Argentina, while most recent expansion in soybean agriculture has relied on available agricultural land, there are aggressive targets to expand the agricultural area to increase soybean production for export.1
Beef production in Argentina also poses a threat to natural habitats. Beef ‘feeding’, located on land that used to compete with agricultural crops, has been concentrated in the Espinal Ecoregion (an area of thorny deciduous shrubland forest) threatening grasslands and forests.
Similar impacts have occurred with cattle ‘breeding’, which has expanded into the Chaco ecoregion and is threatening forests. These processes are closely linked with an increasing demand for suitable land for soy cropping.2
Argentina also faces the issue of energy consumption and management and the inefficient use of non-renewable resources.
Argentina has over 33 million ha of forest, representing over 12% of the country’s land area. Between 1990 and 2005 Argentina lost 6.4% of its natural forest cover, although plantation expansion resulted in the net forest loss being lower at 2.1%. A forestry bill in 1997 offered tax breaks and subsidies to foreign investors for establishing tree plantations and the aim was to plant an average of 200,000 ha per year from 2000 to 2009. Although this target was not achieved, an average of approximately 50,000 ha per year were planted from 2000 to 2008.
Much of the destruction of natural forests is due to the spread of agribusiness. In the central province of Cordoba soy production has increased steadily in the last decade, replacing forests; of the 10 million ha of forest in Cordoba a century ago, only 12% remain and in some areas, the figure is as low as 2%. The result has been soil erosion, water shortages and localised changes to the climate. The Cordoba Environment Agency introduced a law in 2005 banning clear-cutting for a period of 10 years, but allowing ‘sustainable logging’ in native forests.
In the north western province of Salta, the number of permits issued by the provincial government for land conversion increased in recent years; in 2007 alone, permits issued allowed for the felling of half a million ha of forest. At the end of 2008, 18 indigenous communities presented a demand to the Supreme Court for an immediate halt to the deforestation. The court imposed an immediate ban on deforestation in the region and demanded a public consultation take place prior to the court taking a final decision. This deforestation is also threatening the habitats of many species, including the jaguar and seven other cat species.
Timber is not a major industry in Argentina; many of the companies involved in land clearing for agribusiness are also involved in the paper and pulp industry. Much of the potentially valuable timber is in remote areas and remains unexploited.
In 2008 the World Bank approved a US$60 million loan to Argentina to work with smaller farmers to improve sustainable management of forest resources and preserve biodiversity. The work will focus on the most the most threatened areas, where ecosystems have been seriously damaged by agribusiness. In another positive move, the Canadian Forest Service has begun working with Argentina to develop six ‘model forests’ and develop local indicators to monitor progress towards sustainable forest management.
Destruction of forests creates numerous environmental catastrophes, including altering local rainfall patterns, accelerating soil erosion, causing the flooding of rivers, and threatening millions of species of plants, animals and insects with extinction.
The main causes of deforestation are: expansion of agricultural and industrial needs, population growth, poverty, consumer demand and landlessness.
Despite increased public awareness and a large number of initiatives, deforestation is still continuing in most of Africa, Latin America, Asia and the Pacific. During 1980-90 alone, the Latin American region lost 62 million hectares (6.0 per cent) of its natural forest, which was the largest loss in the world during those years, with a further 5.8 million hectares a year lost during 1990-95. (source:UNEP)
Approximately 45% of India’s land is degraded primarily due to deforestation, unsustainable agricultural practices, mining and excessive groundwater extraction. More than 2/3rds of this can be regenerated.
India has the 10th largest forest cover in the world at 68 million hectares. The government’s National Action Plan on climate change involves expanding forest cover from the current 23% to 33% of India’s territory, and to afforest 6 million hectares of degraded forest land.
India has rich biodiversity – more than 45,000 plant and 91,000 animal species. However there are rapid loss trends – 10% flora and fauna are on the threatened list and many are on the verge of extinction.
(IPS) The agriculture industry in Argentina is enjoying the boom in demand for soybeans and other commodities and the subsequent high prices, which are also fattening the state coffers. But the question of the unsafe handling of pesticides and fertilisers has basically been ignored amidst the collective euphoria.
According to the Secretariat of Agriculture, the latest harvest set a new record of nearly 95 million tons of grains, half of which were soybeans.
This year, the harvest should exceed 100 million tons, and the state expects to take in 7.5 billion dollars in tax revenue as a result.
Last year, farmers purchased more than 5,000 tractors, a similar number of sewing machines and 2,000 harvesting machines. But as the area under cultivation has expanded and investment in technology has increased, the use of agrochemicals has grown as well.
Private consultants estimate that 3.6 tons of fertilisers were used in 2007, 20 percent more than in 2006. And the growing demand has drawn major investments in fertiliser production plants run by local and international companies, which indicates that output will continue to rise.
Statistics from the Secretariat of the Environment show that the use of pesticides has grown steadily since 1991, and that half of the demand comes from soybean producers.
“This issue has not yet been put on the agenda of social problems,” sociologist María Alejandra Silva, director of the workers health unit at the University of Rosario’s School of Medicine, told IPS. “Concerned civil society sectors have failed to get our voices heard.”
Local non-governmental organisations (NGOs) led by the Rural Reflection Group have long been warning about the risks faced by the rural population due to the expansion of monoculture farming of genetically modified soybeans, which require glyphosate, and the aerial spraying of fields, that is frequently carried out without the necessary safety precautions.
Silva, a researcher with the National Council of Scientific and Technical Research (CONICET), said the state, which brings in enormous tax revenues from farm exports, “looks the other way.”
In an article on “the challenges facing Argentina with respect to rural growth that has ignored environmental and health concerns”, Silva wrote that in this South American country “little or no attention is paid to the question of the environmental and health sustainability of the rural sector’s current model of growth.”
She said the agricultural producers surveyed in the study expressed concern over the soil’s loss of fertility caused by intensive use, but were not worried about the lack of oversight and control in the production, transportation, storage, handling and application of fertilisers and pesticides, or about the disposal of the empty containers.
The symptoms of mild or acute poisoning from agrochemicals include headache, fatigue, weakness, dizziness, restlessness, nervousness, perspiration, nausea, diarrhea, loss of appetite, loss of weight, thirst, moodiness, soreness in joints, skin irritation, eye irritation, and irritation of the nose and throat.
Long-term exposure to pesticides and fertilisers without adequate protection and safety measures can cause cancer, neurological damage, endocrine disruption, reproductive disorders, fetal malformations, immune system disruption and impaired nervous system function.
A study conducted in different regions with the coordination of the Argentine Association of Doctors for the Environment (AAMMA) warns of the inadequate and indiscriminate use of pesticides, a lack of protection for the workers who handle them, and for their families, and the accumulation of contaminated containers on farms, plantations and orchards.
Pesticides and fertilisers can pollute the soil and both surface and underground water sources, and pose risks to living beings, says the report on “the problem of agrochemicals and their containers and their effect on the health of workers, the exposed population and the environment”.
The study, carried out with contributions from the Health Ministry, the Secretariat of the Environment and Sustainable Development, and several universities, says the inappropriate handling of these products is “a serious environmental and health problem” in Argentina that is causing damages that “could be irreversible,” especially for children.
Around 15 percent of the farmers interviewed in the eastern province of Buenos Aires said they knew people who were “resistant” to pesticides and handled them without gloves. This was described by the authors as a popular misconception among farmers who often fail to understand that symptoms sometimes only show up in the long-term.
In addition, many of the interviewees were unaware of, or simply did not follow, the regulations for disposing of empty agrochemical containers, which must be washed three times and then perforated so that they cannot be reused.
Most of the containers end up in piles on unused fields around farms or are buried or burnt, with the subsequent polluting effect on the environment. In some low-income rural or semi-urban areas, people even use the empty containers to haul water.
According to the study, the problem is a serious one because the funding is lacking for carrying out local research showing a direct link between the improper handling of pesticides and health effects that can show up decades after contact, or even in future generations in the case of pregnant women exposed to pesticides or fertilisers.
In the meantime, “in light of the real magnitude and urgency of the problem,” the researchers recommend campaigns to inform people about the correct handling of such products and the risks they pose, as well as training, both for farmers and workers who use them and health professionals who must properly diagnose the symptoms of exposure to toxic agrochemicals.
The term pesticide covers a wide range of compounds including insecticides, fungicides, herbicides, rodenticides, molluscicides, nematicides, plant growth regulators and others.
Among these, organochlorine (OC) insecticides, used successfully in controlling number of diseases, such as malaria and typhus, were banned or restricted after the 1960s
in most of the technologically advanced countries. The introduction of other synthetic insecticides – organophosphate (OP) insecticides in the 1960s, carbamates in 1970s andPyrethroids in 1980s and the introduction of herbicides and fungicides in 1970s – 1980scontributed greatly in pest control and agricultural output. Ideally a pesticide must be lethal to the targetted pests, but not to non-target species, including man. Unfortunately, this is not, so the controversy of use and abuse of pesticides has surfaced. The rampant Use of these chemicals, under the adage, “if little is good, a lot more will be better” has played havoc with human and other life forms.
The production of pesticides started in India in 1952 with the establishment of a plant for
The production of BHC near Calcutta, and India is now the second largest manufacturer of
Pesticides in Asia after China and ranks twelfth globally9. There has been a steady growth
in the production of technical grade pesticides in India, from 5,000 metric tonnes in 1958
to 102,240 metric tonnes in 1998. In 1996-97 the demand for pesticides in terms of value
Was estimated to be around Rs. 22 billion (USD 0.5 billion), which is about 2% of the
total world market.
Agriculture is the essence of India. Since time immemorial, the majority of its population bank on agriculture sector directly or indirectly. This is the reason, the contribution of Indian agriculture industry to GDP (Gross Domestic Products) is around 25 per cent. Agriculture in India is a crucial sector in socio-economic development of the country. Comparing the total farming output of India with other countries, India is ranked second worldwide. Because of transforming farming scenario and international competition, augmentation in production and meticulous distribution of food receive higher priority across the globe.
Being the largest producer of agricultural products like cashew nuts, coconuts, tea, ginger, turmeric, black pepper, the 2nd largest cultivator of vegetables, and the third largest producer of fruits. The total production of fruit is around 27.83 MT(Million Tons) and 54 MT in vegetables. India has also strengthened its position in the cultivation of flower and it is estimated that 35,000 hectare of flowers of various kinds like rose, jasmine, marigold, and so on are grown in one or the other part of India. Above all, India is now exporting rice & wheat. That has made India self sufficient in food.
Agriculture industry in India has seen some remarkable changes since independence, also become very important from the perspective of employment generation, so Indian economy is reckoned as agri oriented. With increased level of sophisticated technologies, application of modern bio technologies, and rendering considerable importance to seeds, fertilizers, irrigation sources, agriculture business has reached a new height.
Agro Industry is a promising & lucrative sector and riding on an impressive growth. India’s share in the global food market has grown to 0.7 percent and is assessed to reach 1.5 per cent. All these augur great for farming industry.
“The goal is to raise biomass participation in electricity generation by means of a platform for private projects in need of promotion,” said Miguel Almada, head of the agroenergy area of the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries.
“Many projects are already under way, or are negotiating tariffs,” he told IPS.
A worker unloads rice husk at a biomass power plant run by a company in Thailand. Credit: Nantiya Tangwisutijit/IPS
According to a study carried out with the support of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), Argentina has the potential to generate half the country’s total energy supply by burning biomass.
The assessment by the FAO and government and technical bodies in Argentina mapped the biomass resources in each province to determine the available potential.
Despite its potential, the FAO considers that biomass has so far been the “Cinderella” of energy sources, without political visibility or recognition in development planning in many countries, including Argentina.
FAO, which published its study in 2009 at the request of the Argentine government as a step towards the official launch of the Probiomasa programme, says the use of biomass resources is not jus
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