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VENEZUELA: ''Barrels of Death''

CARACAS - Some 11,000 barrels full of toxic waste have been contaminating the environment in three Venezuelan states for the last 40 years.

The receptacles contain pesticides like DDT, lead arseniate, toxaphene and aldrin, which can cause cancer and harm human health, particularly the liver, nervous system and reproductive organs.

These ''barrels of death,'' as the containers found in Araguq, Carabobo and Trujillo states have been dubbed, had been dumped in the area despite the fact that the authorities were aware of the negative impacts of the contents.

The Environment Ministry has set up a budget of five million dollars to process these toxic products, which will later be moved to Europe.


BRAZIL: Save the Forests!

RIO DE JANEIRO - The SOS Forest Campaign, promoted by 287 environmental and social organizations in Brazil, is preparing to mobilize against a legislative bill that would accelerate the destruction of this country's wooded areas.

The bill, backed by a vote of 13 to two in a parliamentary commission dominated by ranchowners, reduces the area of obligatory conservation of forests on rural properties, allowing greater deforestation.

Final approval of the initiative by a vote of the full Congress would endanger the Amazon region, the savannas and even the Atlantic forests, which have already lost 93 percent of their original area, say the groups.

The government of Fernando Henrique Cardoso seems to be on the environmentalists' side this time, but is not ensured of a majority in Congress.


GLOBAL: For the Ozone Layer

NAIROBI - ''Save Our Sky: Protect Yourself, Protect the Ozone Layer'' is the slogan of the United Nations-backed International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer, celebrated Sep 16.

The Nairobi-based United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) called on governments to take advantage of the yearly event, established in 1995, to relaunch their activities aimed at restoring the Earth's ozone layer, an objective that could be achieved by 2050 if there is full compliance with the existing international treaties.

The ozone layer serves as a natural filter for the solar light that reaches the Earth, preventing adverse effects of radiation. As a result of industrial development and the consequent emissions of certain gases, the ozone has suffered major damage during the last century.


COSTA RICA: The Route of the Turtles

SAN JOSE - Two sea turtles with radio transmitters were returned to the ocean off northeast Costa Rica on Sep 12 in an attempt to determine the migratory route of this species.

A device that runs on batteries and is attached to the turtles' shells sends a signal to a satellite each time the animal surfaces to breath, explained biologist Carlos Calvo, an expert from the National Turtle Park here.

The satellite then sends the information of the turtles' geographic location to a computer based at the University of Gainesville, in the US state of Florida. Calvo said that knowledge of the turtles' migratory routes will allow the creation of regional treaties to protect the species.

* Source: Inter Press Service.

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