June 18, 2007

Dumping on Gaia

Claiming to protect the planet from greenhouse gases, geo-engineer, Planktos, Inc., is poised to dump iron in waters off the Galapagos Islands and thumbing its nose at the International Maritime Organization and the US government

Joint News Release - ETC Group and ICTA

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) London Convention (dealing with ocean dumping) should urgently launch investigations into the activities of Planktos, Inc., a private climate-engineering firm, according to ETC Group (Ottawa, Canada) and the International Center for Technology Assessment (ICTA - Washington, DC). The two civil society organizations believe that the company may soon begin dumping iron particles in an 100 km. by 100 km. expanse of ocean near the Galapagos islands – if it has not already begun. Planktos may also have violated the U.S. Ocean Dumping Act during iron dumping experiments carried out in 2002. ICTA and ETC Group submitted a formal request to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency early today even as IMO member governments meet in Spain to consider the legality of such high-risk geoengineering experiments. The letter to EPA is available here (link not active anymore).

“There is a law against dumping material into the ocean without permits. Yet, this is exactly what Planktos plans on doing,” explains George Kimbrell of ICTA, a staff attorney based in Washington D.C. “We are today asking EPA to launch an immediate and full investigation into Planktos’ ocean dumping activities.” Simultaneously, the two organizations are working with environmental groups to press the international meeting in Spain to take action.

Planktos Inc., a for-profit geoengineering company with offices in the U.S. and Canada, announced that it will dump 100 tons of iron particles in the Pacific Ocean west of the Galapagos islands – an act that critics believe may violate national and international ocean protection laws, and potentially cause serious damage to the ocean ecosystem.

Planktos is in the business of selling “carbon credits” to individuals who want to “offset” their personal climate change impact. The company claims that iron particles dumped in the ocean will stimulate growth of phytoplankton and draw carbon dioxide (a climate changing gas) out of the atmosphere, a scheme that will allow the company to make money from carbon trading.


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