Science News

Hong Kong Company Building $50 Billion Transoceanic Canal Connecting Atlantic And Pacific Oceans

Nicaragua Interoceanic Grand Canal

A private company in Hong Kong, the Hong Kong Nicaragua Canal Development Investment Company (HKND), is building a $50 billion transoceanic canal connecting the Atlantic and Pacific oceans north of the Panama Canal.

Construction of the canal, known as the Nicaragua Interoceanic Grand Canal, comes as a collaboration between the private Hong Kong company and the Nicaraguan government.

In contrast, the 172-mile canal is 121-miles longer than the 51-mile Panama Canal. The canal is to be not only longer, but also wider and deeper than the Panama Canal.

Nicaragua’s government granted the concession last June, according to a report on Phys.Org, which also indicated that preparation for the project began with the construction of roads intended to be used for the transference of heavy equipment and construction supplies.

The report quoted environmental engineer Pedro Alvarez of Rice University, a co-corresponding author of a paper titled “Scientists Raise Alarms About Fast Tracking of Transoceanic Canal Through Nicaragua,” as having said that the project’s “biggest environmental challenge is to build and operate the canal without catastrophic impacts to this sensitive ecosystem”.

The biggest environmental challenge is to build and operate the canal without catastrophic impacts to this sensitive ecosystem […] Significant impacts to the lake could result from incidental or accidental spills from 5,100 ships passing through every year; invasive species brought by transoceanic ships, which could threaten the extinction of aquatic plants and fish, such as the cichlids that have been evolving since the lake’s formation; and frequent dredging, impacting aquatic life through alterations in turbidity and hypoxia, triggered by resuspension of nutrients and organic matter that exert a relatively high biochemical oxygen demand.

The Hong Kong-based consortium behind the canal’s development, HKND, was granted a 50-year concession by Nicaraguan government back in 2013 to build and operate the canal, CNN reported.

Ships are scheduled to pass through the canal late in 2019.

What are your thoughts on the construction of this $50 billion canal’s intended path through the largest tropical freshwater lake in the Americas, Lake Nicaragua?

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