Published: Tuesday 31 October 2006

Lebanon to sue Israel: Lebanon is preparing legal action to sue Israel for damages over a huge oil spill, which occurred when Israeli warplanes bombed the Jiyyeh power station on the Mediterranean coast off Beirut in mid-July. The bombing spilled around 110,000 barrels of oil into the sea and has been described as Lebanon's worst environmental disaster. Officials of the Lebanese environment ministry estimate the cleanup cost at US $100 million, but the total loss is likely to be much higher once the loss from the tourism and fishing industries are taken into account. According to media reports, the Lebanese Environment Minister Yacoub Sarraf said that Lebanon would pursue the legal action both at the UN and the International Court of Justice.

oil lease sale: The US interior department has told the US district court of Alaska that it is willing to withdraw sensitive wetlands from its planned lease sale. The wetlands in dispute form a large area in Alaska's western Arctic region. The department has asked for energy exploration to continue on other lands (see 'Oil lease sale blocked', Down To Earth, October 15, 2006).

native land title:
The Australian government has announced that it will appeal against a Federal Court ruling validating claims of indigenous people over 6,000 sq km of land in and around Perth, the capital of Western Australia. In a statement, federal attorney general Philip Ruddock said the government would appeal against the court's ruling, which needed clarification, as it would have significant implications for similar claims over other cities. In August 2006, the Federal Court had upheld part of the Noongar people's claim over Western Australia's southwest region. The ruling had triggered fears that people's homes and access to public land, such as beaches and forests, could be under threat.

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