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Firm denies dam report bias

A consulting firm commissioned by the Lao government to prepare a report on the controversial US$3.8 billion Xayaburi dam project has rejected claims by environmentalists that their assessment was “biased” due partly to existing ties with a project backer.

On Wednesday, conservation group International Rivers claimed that the report by Pöyry Energy AG – whose parent company is based in Finland – recommended that the proposed Xayaburi dam in northern Laos proceed despite gaps in scientific and technical studies and an incomplete regional decision-making process.

The report by Pöyry was commissioned by the Lao government in May, following concerns raised by Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam in April about the transboundary impacts of the dam throughout the Mekong Basin.

In particular, International Rivers highlighted Pöyry’s consultancy for the Nam Ngum 2 dam in Laos, of which one shareholder is Thailand’s Ch Karnchang – one of the backers of the proposed Xayaburi dam.

A representative of Pöyry told the Post via email that the company had “no partnership or special relationship with CH. Karnchang [sic]” and that Ch Karnchang was only a “minority shareholder” in the Nam Ngum 2 project.

“We would like to stress that Pöyry has no conflict of interest in the Xayaburi project,” the representative said. “Our report is based on comprehensive technical analysis supported by our company’s extensive experience in the field.”

The representative also said that Pöyry’s services for the project did not include “any feasibility study or environmental and social impact assessments”.

Representatives from the Lao Ministry of Energy and Mines and the Lao embassy in Phnom Penh could not be reached for comment yesterday.

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