Plans for a chemical factory in Tanzania threaten to ruin one of the natural wonders of the world and could wipe out a spectacular and rare species of bird. India’s Tata Chemicals has been given permission to build both a soda ash factory and a coal powered power plant next to Lake Natron in the spectacular Rift Valley.
The lake is a breeding ground for the lesser flamingo. Three quarters of the world’s population of the bird descend on the lake each year, the caustic and salty waters of which are a perfect habitat for the flamingo. According to the RSPB, which describes the scheme as ‘bonkers’, it is highly unlikely that the flamingos will continue to breed there if the factory is built. If this is the case, the likely consequence is the extinction of the species. It is also likely that Tata will damage the delicate ecosystem of the lake even further by introducing a shrimp to increase the salinity of the lake.
Tata claim to have consulted widely with the public in Tanzania and to have undertaken an environmental impact assessment. However, some environmental organisations were prevented from attending the consultations and nor is it clear what the conclusions of the assessment were.