Opposition surfaces to volcano hydro project in park

Opposition is growing against plans to put a hydrothermal power plant in Parque Nacional Rincón de la Vieja.

Lawmakers are considering legislation now that would allow the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad to take over some 1,046 hectares, about 2,584 acres. The park surrounds the Rincón de la Vieja volcano, so there most likely is plenty of heat underground.

The environmental organization Preserve Planet came out against the project Wednesday at the same time Ronit Amit Rojas sent a heavily footnoted letter to Alfonso Pérez Gómez, who heads the legislative environmental committee.

Preserve Planet said there was no way to construct a power plant without disturbing the fragile ecosystem. Amit was identified as an environmental adviser to the organization.

He wrote his letter in his capacity as an advisor to the Asociación Confraternidad Guanacasteca. He is a doctoral student at the University of Florida.

Amit said that a power plant would disturb the animals there, including the endangered jaguar, which the country has promised to protect in an agreement with the Fundación Panthera, a non-profit organization. The project also would compromise plans for a biological corridor for the wild cats, he said.

He also said that the plant would open up areas for illegal hunting and for more humans. Amit also said that tasking land by the government would increase already existing hard feelings among the human neighbors and perhaps cause them to set forest fires or do other damage.

Legislation is needed for the project because the park is now a protected area off limits to development. So far, the national power company has approval to conduct studies in the area.

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