Tag Archive for 'madeira river'

A Raging River

Photo retrieved from: www.amazonwatch.org

“As the Brazil government pursues its reckless plans to build mega-dams on major Amazonian rivers like the Xingu and Madeira, we can expect to see their catastrophic social and environmental consequences continue to befall local communities. This article highlights how the construction of the Santo Antônio dam of Brazil’s Madeira River Complex in the Amazonian state of Rondônia has unleashed the river’s destructive powers, swallowing a riverside community in the city of Porto Velho. It also shows how these dams decimate the abundant fish species that are so crucial to local food security and livelihoods while uprooting thousands of people from their homes.

Two days before the start of tests on the first turbine of the Santo Antônio hydroelectric dam [on the Madeira River] in Rondônia, the phone rang in the home of fisherwoman Maria Iêsa Reis Lima. “It’s going to start”, warned a friend who worked on the dam’s construction. Iêsa sat on the porch, poised to observe the waters, awaiting what she knew would be an irreversible change. “The Madeira River is dangerous, it demands respect. The engineers say that they have all the technology, but nothing controls the reaction of this river.”

This is sadly just one of the stories emerging from dam-ravaged communities in the Amazon, one we will see repeated many times over if Brazil continues to pursue its disastrous plans for the region’s rivers.”

Read more: Amazon Watch


Amid Brazil’s Rush to Develop, Workers Resist

Photo retrieved from: www.libcom.org

“JACI PARANÁ, Brazil — The revolt here on the banks of the Madeira River, the Amazon’s largest tributary, flared after sunset. At the simmering end of a 26-day strike by 17,000 workers last month, a faction of laborers who were furious over wages and living conditions began setting fire to the construction site at the Jirau Dam.

Throughout the night, they burned more than 30 structures to the ground and looted company stores, capturing the mayhem on their own cellphone cameras, before firefighters extinguished the blazes. The authorities in Brasília flew in hundreds of troops from an elite force to quell the unrest.

Men in camouflage fatigues still patrol the sprawling work site, reflecting a dilemma for Brazil’s leaders. Even as they move to tap one of the world’s last great reserves of hydroelectric power, the Amazon basin, strikes and worker uprisings at the biggest projects are producing delays and cost overruns.

“No one burns anything if they’re satisfied,” said Altair Donizete de Oliveira, a union leader here in Brazil’s western frontier. He listed salaries, cramped living quarters and requests for more home visits among the grievances that were contributing to the festering tension among the laborers, who number in the tens of thousands at various work sites in the Amazon.”

Read more: International Rivers

No More Catfish in the Madeira?

Photo retrieved from: www.internationalrivers.org

“When the environmental license for the Santo Antônio Dam was approved against the findings of fish experts, Lula controversially claimed that the dams would not be stopped because of “some catfish.” Now, the catfish are disappearing.

The news is especially troubling only a few years after 11 tons of fish were destroyed during construction of a coffer dam. Meanwhile, construction of the Jirau Dam continues farther upstream; and if the government’s plans move forward to build a third dam on the Madeira River – the Ribeirão Dam – fish species may disappear from this majestic river at an even greater rate.

Earlier this year, Congress unilaterally proclaimed the Ribeirão Dam a “national priority,” despite the dam not appearing on any government plan. It is not mentioned in the Program to Accelerate Growth, nor in the Ten-Year Energy Plans for 2020, nor in the National Energy Plan for 2030. The project has not passed through the Ministry of Planning. And no economic feasibility study, no environmental impact assessment, and no indigenous action plan have ever been sent to IBAMA, and no prior consultations have ever been held. Every indication points to this third dam being a nice serving of pork barrel spending for theRaupp political family in Rondônia.

Will the catfish disappear entirely from the Madeira River? As long as Dilma’s authoritarian dam-building in the Amazon continues, chances are only getting worse.”

Read more: International Rivers


Emerging Powers Harnessing Neighbours’ Hydroelectricity

The Madeira river, where Brazil hopes to build a hydropower plant under an agreement with Bolivia. Photo retrieved from: www.ipsnews.net

“Emerging countries like Brazil and China are building numerous hydroelectric dams at home and abroad to help drive their economic growth. But while in Latin America the phenomenon is touted as an integration process, in Asia it has generated tension over the shared use of rivers.

Brazil, the leader of this strategy in Latin America, has an agreement to build five hydropower dams in Peru, and is interested in building two similar plants, which would depend on reaching agreements with Bolivia: a joint venture between the two countries on the stretch of the Madeira river that forms part of the border between them, and a Bolivian plant.

A large part of the energy generated by these projects will be exported to Brazil, whose government projects an annual 5.9 percent increase in demand for energy from now to 2019, when the country will need 167,000 MW, over two-thirds of which will come from hydroelectricity.

Building dams outside of the country is one way to evade stiff opposition from environmentalists and indigenous groups in the Brazilian Amazon, where nearly all of the country’s as-yet untapped hydropower potential is found.

Cachuela Esperanza on the Beni river in northern Bolivia, near the Brazilian border, will have a potential of 990 MW, according to a project drawn up by Tecsult, a leading Canadian consulting firm. That is nearly the equivalent of Bolivia’s entire demand for energy. ”

Read more: IPS