---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Fri, 3 Mar 2000 09:03:23 EST
Subject: Fwd: Mexico Cancels Salt Works
Mexico scraps salt works near whale sanctuary
Salt production plants could threaten one of the last breeding habitats of
the gray whale
March 2, 2000
Web posted at: 6:32 PM EST (2332 GMT)
MEXICO CITY (Reuters) -- Mexico Thursday canceled a Baja California salt
works expansion project that had faced bitter opposition from
environmentalists arguing it posed a threat to Latin America's biggest
The project would have created the world's largest salt works at Laguna San
Ignacio, near the Vizcaino Biosphere Reserve, an important breeding area for
The project was headed by salt-exporting company Exportadora de Sal (ESSA)
in which Japan's Mitsubishi Corp. holds a 49 percent stake, with the Mexican
government controlling the remainder.
"It's a definitive withdrawal (of the project)," said Trade Minister Herminio
Blanco, who acts as president of ESSA's board. "Mitsubishi totally supports
the Mexican government's decision."
President Ernesto Zedillo said the government had carefully weighed the
merits and drawbacks of the project, which ESSA said would have created
much-needed jobs in Baja California.
The deciding factor was the "national and world importance and the uniqueness
of the Vizcaino Biosphere Reserve," Zedillo told a news conference.
Laguna San Ignacio is an important breeding area for gray whales.
"In Mexico, for now, environmental laws have triumphed over economic
criteria," Mexican poet and environmentalist Homero Aridjis told Reuters.
Environmentalists said the proposed evaporation basins would have threatened
endangered species, including gray whales, sea lions, black sea turtles and
The warm water San Ignacio Lagoon is one of only four in the world where gray
whales go to mate and calve after migrating 6,200 miles from the Bering
Straits down the Canadian and U.S. Pacific coast each year.
ESSA already operates a smaller salt works nearby, which ships the bulk of
its output to Japan.
The new plant would have involved burrowing out 116 square miles -- twice the
size of Washington, D.C. It would have sucked 6,000 gallons per second of
water out of the lagoon, perhaps affecting local fish hatcheries, critics
CNN © 2000 Cable News Network
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