Sunday, 2 June 2013

Zeroing on toxic (developments?)

Yeh panes hot spring, Bali, Indonesia. From instagram of cara_elyse:
'Chilling in the hot springs.. Which were kinda lukewarm..'
Toxic rash
Time again I have commented on the lose of natural soaking sites. If it's not (local) government selling out to private interests and thereby locking out local public access (save the privileged few) then there is the often unregulated geothermal power lobby which with many a flowery argument seeks private control over natural process of thermal flows.

Oddly in recent months it's the Philippines which is showing some guidance. 
It had to happen. A good idea gets followed up. What simply stupefies me is that it took so long. The Blue Lagoon Reykjavik, Iceland has earned itself as the national no. 1 tourist attraction. But in essence it's just an overflow of a large geothermal power generation project. What with everybody now plumbing their own geothermal projects and killing off many a local soak, linking the two seems so obvious. 
From (22 May 2013): 
'Philippine geothermal developer Constellation Energy Corp. plans the development of lakeshore areas with hot spring and wellness center near its 20 MW geothermal power project in Oriental Mindoro [Montelago]'. 
Let's hope they don't hash the development ...

Then there are those that are questioning the  impact of geothermal power. Sadly despite all the arguments, it's hardly ever highlighted that there could be any negative implications of geothermal power other than a couple of social ones.
The Philippines BusinessMirror (May 21) has an article on opposition to establishing geothermal plant: 
'After two decades, the people of Irosin continue to stand up against advocates of geothermal energy, this time the Department of Energy (DOE) and contractor Summa Kumagai Inc. (SKI), who want to set up a multimillion-dollar geothermal power plant in the town, Dr. Gante [Irosin Coalition Against Geothermal (ICAG) Chairman] said.
Gante expressed profound concern over human exposure to hazards entailing geothermal operations.
She said arsenic concentration is high in all geothermal sites, adding the deeper the operation goes down, the higher the concentration.
“Arsenic is converted into other compounds but never destroyed once outside of the soil,” she said. “It contaminates water, including sources of drinking water.”
She said arsenic is highly toxic for the human body. Exposure can cause cancer. It is a Category 1 poison, according to the World Health Organization.
The ICAG chairman said the drilling period is very toxic-laden since at the time, there is not yet reinjection of waste back into the earth.
She said Hiromi Hironaka’s finding in 1993 which reports that residents along the Mantigao and Marbel Rivers had elevated levels of arsenic, hydrogen sulfide and manganese traced from hair samples.
These people experienced headache and stomach upset during the construction of Mount Apo Geothermal Power Plant, she said
She dismissed geothermal zero-waste backlog claimed by project proponents, and pointed out that such claim has been refuted by people living close to geothermal plants who are getting sick from toxic emissions.
The ICAG chairman cited skin disease on residents of Barangay Osiao in Bacon district near the BacMan geothermal power plant, saying areas near the Tiwi geothermal plant have signs warning of the hazards of hydrogen-sulfide discharge.
Irosin has a bustling tourism for its hot springs. But geothermal operation may drain local tourism after depleting water in the area, Gante said.
“Our main tourist destinations in Irosin are the hot springs,” she said.
A geothermal plant can also sewer the active tourism in nearby Bulusan, which is retraced by visitors for its choices of cold springs, Gante said' 
Positively, Thinkgeoenergy (May 21) has made a short and correct summary of the article. Though no comment on the issues raised ...

That's the plus side. Now the low side. China is swiftly losing it's wilder soaks and with it goes public access. How about Angsana Tengchong Hot Spring Village in western Yunnan. By Banyan Tree. Spaopportunities (22 May 2013):
'Angsana Hotels and Resorts is set to launch its first hot spring destination retreat 
The resort’s wellness area spans 17,083sq m (183,879sq ft) and is formed of a three-storey indoor Hot Spring Centre and outdoor hot spring area.' 
Basically soaks are available everywhere. Traveldailymedia (16 May) adds:
'Angsana Tengchong Hot Spring Village is the fourth Angsana resort to launch in China, and the second hot spring resort to be announced by Banyan Tree in recent weeks, following the Banyan Tree Chongqing Beibei, which also opens this summer'.
Hot springs and beauty. A recent study suggests that soaking does enhance beauty (we all knew all along): 
'One onsen in particular, named Ryujin (lit. Dragon God), is also known as bijin no yu or “the beautiful women hot spring.” It is hailed as a hot spring for enhancing beauty and the waters are said to smooth and moisturize skin. Despite these claims being repeated for hundreds of years, some may still be skeptical. However, a recent study suggests that the waters of Ryujin Onsen actually have beautifying capabilities'.  
Article originally from NHK News Web (May 24).

Innovation kiwi style: a bike tour of hot springs! 
'Thermal by Bike - Te Ara Ahi offers a 74 km cycling adventure through a thermal wonderland of steaming vents, bubbling mud pools and spectacular geysers'.
News from the region
  • Cambodia
Somebody (Meas Roth) has actually made it to the nations only hot spring of Tei Teuk Pous:
'This is 'Te Teuk Pous' or Hot Spring in Aoral district, Kampong Speu province. It's hard to believe if I don't see by my own eyes the hot water emerging from the ground'.
  • Indonesia
An Indonesian take on our relation with water by Byron Black on the Jakarta Globe (May 7, 2013). 
'Indonesians are basically fastidious people, and even the poor try to wear clean clothing and wash themselves. You can’t imagine the horrid stench of old human sweat and dirt you encounter on a bus in India or in any Arab country; even a crowded Economy-class train or bus here won’t stink like that.
Indonesians are, however, not fundamentally water babies. Travel to Germany or Japan and you’ll be amazed at the devotion to ‘taking the waters’. 
After touching on the habits of both (Japanese love of hot water and Germans love their birthday suits (so should you!))) he concludes: 
'Millions of years ago we emerged from the oceans, to evolve into land creatures. But many of us (including this writer) are still fond of swimming, bathing, splashing and diving'.
Also reminiscing earlier times before modernity hit the region connectlocally on worldnomads has the following story:
'Mount Batur [Bali] smokes silently. Threateningly. It’s the reason we’re here, standing naked in our embarrassment, the natural hot springs are therapeutic, we’re promised.
Okay, how does this work? My friend and I stop and watch for a while.
In one area women dip clothes into hot soapy water, then rinse them in the cold clear lake – an ancient twin tub washer.
Alongside, men and women wash themselves, graduating from the cold lake to ever-hotter pools of steaming, mineral-laden water… and back again.
The women enter the water draped in a sarong. The men are, as men are everywhere, arrogant in their nakedness beneath the water. So it’s ‘kit off’ for men? In we go!
Mount Batur rumbles.
The problem was that we didn’t do enough touching. We should have cupped our ‘bits’ in our hands and kept them out of view while we lowered ourselves into the water.
Instead we’re a couple of big swinging inappropriate white guys!'
  • Malaysia
A hot spring along the East-West highway. Yew Aun:
'A few km ahead was a hot spring and I stopped there as well. What's unique about this hot spring is that the area has natural cold river flowing and hot spring water joining together at one pool. I submerged myself in this pool and the sensation I got was WARMTH, just like 5am after a downpour under your comfortable duvet'.
And inclusive of a warmth (or hot?) photo 

Sungkai felda hot spring, Perak Malaysia. From instagram account of ahmadlatif90
'FELDA Residence hot springs'
  • Philippines
A good photographic blog entry by Iloveeverythingaboutit on a lesser known hot spring on Negros at Palinpinon. Compare notes: 
'It's a very great place to spend time with the families, friends and loved ones. You can enjoy the very peaceful place, the nature, the breathtaking air, the view, relaxation and the hot spring'. 
The evidence: 

Yet again highlighting Puning hot spring. BusinessMirror (June 1) has a long expose:
'Ma. Carmencita Luciano Kim and her group did not waste time after seeing the huge potential of the hot spring and the adventures that go along with it.

In 2008 the Puning Hot Spring and Restaurant officially opened to the public.

There was a struggle between the developers and the Aytas of Inararo and Sapang Bato during the resort’s construction but it ended when the Aytas were assured of livelihood opportunities and the protection of their general welfare.

The hot springs are basically borne out of the eruption of Mount Pinatubo. No one ever thought then at the height of Mount Pinatubo’s wrath that there was opportunity left for Pampanga'.
Now Puning rates as one of the Philippines major hot spring destinations. Owners are quoted as saying that the amount of visitors goes up by 2-30% annually.

 Another Filipino hot spring.
  • Thailand
Other innovation: hot spring yoga! Brought to you by Outdooryoga Chiang Mai. From their Facebook page: 

Apparently no yoga during the actual soaking? See also their homepage.

Not only humans need a soak. From the Bangkok Post (May 29) this article on a black leopard sighting. It quotes the photographer:
'As usual, I'd set up camera traps at a hot spring not far from the ranger station some 50km deep in the interior, accessible only by a dirt road. This natural seep is visited by all the large mammals including tigers, leopards, elephants, gaurs, bantengs, tapirs and sambars as well as many smaller creatures, and provides excellent opportunities for some great animal shots'.
  • Vietnam
The tourist city of Nha Trang has many a waterfall located nearby, some of which have been turned into veritable tourist traps. Yang Bay waterfall is the top-notch tourist trap. Having visited Yang Bay in 2011, I was unable to find the apparent hot spring. From this on recent developments: 
'Ho Cho hot spring - Yang Bay park: There are two pools for tourists to swim in'.
Vietnam surprise has published it's top 7 most famous hot springs of the nation:
1. Bang Hot Mineral Water Spring in Quang Binh province
2. Kim Boi hot spring in Hoa Binh province
3. Kenh Ga hot spring in Ninh Binh province
4. Tay Vien hot spring in Quang Nam province
5. Binh Chau hot spring in Ba Ria – Vung Tau province
6. Dam Rong hot spring in Lam Dong province
7. Hoi Van hot spring in Binh Dinh province

On the former the jury reads: 
'The most interesting in this spring is that when the sun sets, the air stream from the hot water circuit genealogy fly into space, creating natural picture has nowhere just to make you feel like you are playing with in a certain paradise'.

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