Category Archives: Hydroelectric dams

Mega-Dams in Sarawak threaten indigenous tribes with ethnocide

By Amanda Stephenson, July 3, 2014. Source: Counterpunch

Sarawak, Malaysia, is located on the island of Borneo, the third largest island in the world. Sarawak is home to thousands of endemic species, forty indigenous groups, and one of the largest transboundary rainforests remaining in the world.

The state is also suffering from one of the world’s highest rates of deforestation; only 5% of its primary forests remain. Now, Sarawak’s forests and their inhabitants face another threat: the damming of its rivers for hydroelectric power.

The Malaysian government and its state-owned energy utility Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB) plan to build 12 large dams, due to produce 7,000 MW (megawatts) of electricity. Six of them are scheduled for completion by 2020. Continue reading

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Villager wins court battle against hydroelectric plant construction

June 26, 2014. Source: Cihan

Delal, who sold a cow so that he could sue the construction company, guards the area against development. Photo by DHA

Delal, who sold a cow so that he could sue the construction company, guards the area against development. Photo by DHA

An administrative court in the Black Sea province of Rize has ruled to halt the construction of a hydroelectric power plant (HES) that was being built on the Andon River, which provides fresh water to at least 3,000 people in the village of Küçükçayır.

Küçükçayır village was declared an environmentally protected site in 2011. The village’s residents held a protest in February against a HES being constructed near the river, closing the main road of the village for hours as part of their protest and not allowing construction equipment to operate at the site. Continue reading

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Hydroelectric dams, Victory!

Chile: HidroAysén dam project is scrapped

June 17, 2014. Source: WW4 Report

Photo from CBC

Photo from CBC

Chile’s environment, energy, agriculture, mining, economy and health ministers voted unanimously at a June 10 meeting to terminate plans for the $8 billion HidroAysén hydroelectric project, a complex of five dams that was to be built on the Baker and Pascua rivers in the Aysén region in southern Patagonia. Environmentalists and many area residents had vigorously opposed the project since it was first proposed in August 2007. HidroAysén supporters said the dams were necessary to meet energy requirements for the country, which currently gets about 40% of its power from hydroelectric projects. But Socialist president Michelle Bachelet, who began her second term on Mar. 11, has indicated that her government will push instead for more use of alternative sources and for the importation of liquefied natural gas. The companies behind the project—the Spanish-Italian electric energy consortium Endesa-Enel, which owns 51%, and the Chilean company Colbún S.A.—have 30 days to appeal the ministers’ decision. Continue reading

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Chile rejects Patagonian dam project, environmentalists hail victory

By Diego Cupolo, June 16, 2014. Source: Upside Down World


 Rio Baker, the sight of one of five proposed HidroAysén dams in Southern Chile – Photo by Diego Cupolo

Rio Baker, the sight of one of five proposed HidroAysén dams in Southern Chile – Photo by Diego Cupolo

After eight years of demonstrations and sometimes violent protests, Chilean environmentalists popped champagne bottles and celebrated outside the ministry building after officials rejected the controversial Patagonian dam project last week.

The decision halts development of what would have become Chile’s largest energy endeavor in history, the $8B HidroAysén hydroelectric project, which involved building five dams in two of South America’s widest rivers along with 1,600 km of power lines through pristine Andean valleys and fjords to carry energy to the nation’s central regions.

In a report by the Associated Press, Patricio Rodrigo, executive secretary of the Patagonia Defense Council, called the moment “the greatest triumph of the environmental movement in Chile.” Continue reading

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Chao HidroAysén!

By Emily Jovais, June 11, 2014. Source: International Rivers

Photo from International Rivers

Photo from International Rivers

It’s not every day we celebrate a victory as significant and hard-won as today’s triumph in the eight-year campaign to protect Chilean Patagonia from the destructive HidroAysén dam project!

This morning, Chile’s highest administrative authority – the Committee of Ministers – made a unanimous decision to overturn the environmental permits for the controversial five dam mega-project, which was planned on the Baker and Pascua rivers. This highly anticipated resolution effectively cancels the project, ruling that assessment of the project’s impacts was insufficient to grant project approval back in 2011.

The Committee, which consists of the Minister of Environment, Health, Economy, Energy and Mining, Agriculture, and Tourism, evaluated 35 appeals which were filed by the Patagonia Defense Council and local citizens in response to the project’s Environmental Impact Assessment after it was approved in May 2011. Though it has taken more than three years, with meetings and decisions being repeatedly delayed and eventually passed on to the new administration, today’s decision is a recognition of the technical and procedural flaws surrounding HidroAysén as well as the significant impacts the project would have had on one of Chile’s most iconic regions.  Continue reading

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Climate Change, Climate Justice, Hydroelectric dams, Victory!, Water

Chile rejects huge hydro-electric project in Patagonia

June 10, 2014. Source: BBC News

Photo by The BBC

Photo by The BBC

The Chilean government has rejected what would have been the biggest energy project in the country’s history.

The HidroAysen project would have seen five huge dams built on two rivers in a beautiful part of Patagonia.

“This project has many aspects that were poorly thought out,” said Energy Minister Maximo Pacheco.

Environmentalists celebrated the decision, saying the project would have had a devastating impact on the area’s ecosystem.

“These giant dams would have put at risk the wilderness, traditional culture, and local tourism economy of this remarkable region,” said Amanda Maxwell, Latin America project director at the Natural Resources’ Defence Council.

Thousands of people had protested against the HidroAysen project. Continue reading

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Filed under False Solutions to Climate Change, Hydroelectric dams, Water

Panama police attack Ngäbe anti-dam protest camps

By Richard Arghiris, April 27, 2014. Source: Intercontinental Cry

All Photos Credit: Ricardo Miranda

All Photos Credit: Ricardo Miranda

At least seven indigenous Ngäbe activists have been injured after police attacked their protest camps in the early hours of Friday 25 April.

The banks of the Tabasará river in western Panama are today the scene of sporadic skirmishes between armed riot troops, reported to number 200, and groups of protesters united against the infamous Barro Blanco hydroelectric dam.

The conflict has been brewing for months. Thousands of indigenous and campesino inhabitants rely upon the Tabasará for their livelihood and are set to be disastrously impacted by the project, widely regarded as improperly consulted and unlawful. Its reservoir is expected to inundate communities, destroy cultural centres, submerge archaeological sites, wash away fertile farming grounds, and completely exterminate the river’s migratory fish species. Continue reading

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Green Economy, Hydroelectric dams, Indigenous Peoples, Land Grabs, Latin America-Caribbean, Political Repression, Water

Ngäbe-Buglé challenge constitutionality of land seizures, protest camps targeted by high-powered lamps

By Robin Llewellyn, April 9, 2014. Source: Intercontinental Cry


All photos by Robin Llewellyn

The controversial Barro Blanco dam project will face another challenge today when the Cacica Silvia Carrera presents a demand of unconstitutionality before Panama’s Supreme Court of Justice regarding Law 18, passed on March 26, 2013.

With Article 127 of the Panamanian Constitution protecting collective ownership of lands and prohibiting private ownership of indigenous territories, Law 18 was rushed into place by President Ricardo Martinelli to allow the legal appropriation of collective lands, particularly lands held by the Ngäbe communities of Nuevo Palomar, Kiad, and Quebrada Caña. All three communities face land seizures as a result of the dam’s construction.

Genisa, the Panamanian company developing Barro Blanco, initially argued that no land within the Ngäbe-Buglé Comarca would be affected by the 28.85 MW dam project; but then claimed that the indigenous communities had consented to the dispossession of their territories. The project has been approved by the UN’s Clean Development Mechanism, and is supported by the Inter-American Development Bank, the Dutch state development bank FMO, and the German development bank DEG.

Continue reading

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Climate Change, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Hydroelectric dams, Indigenous Peoples, UNFCCC, World Bank