Environmental concerns take center stage in Nicaragua over the proposed interoceanic canal

In the 1850s, railroad tycoon Cornelius Vanderbilt attempted and later abandoned an idea to build a canal connecting two oceans, Atlantic and Pacific, in Nicaragua. There were several other attempts by world tycoons to float similar ideas. Over one and one half century later, Chinese are bringing the idea of building a canal again. The proposed project includes other transportation improvements in addition to the canal estimated at $40 billion. The current Nicaraguan government joined in by granting 50-year concession to a Chinese billionaire who is resurrecting the age old idea. Many consider the current proposal to be more viable compared to previous proposals due to economic benefits and other transportation related projects.

Environmental groups are up in arms one more time and protesting in Nicaragua. The main concern is that the proposed canal may run through the Lake Cocibolca (also called Lake Nicaragua or Lake Granada). It is the largest lake in Central America and the 19th largest in the world. The freshwater lake supports many species including sawfish, tarpon, and sharks. Due to industries along the lake dumping sewage and other effluents into the lake, environmental conditions of the lake is deteriorating rapidly.