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Impact study on dam problem-ridden: WWF

The conservation NGO WWF today slammed developers of the Don Sahong Hydropower project for providing “flawed” and scientifically unsound impact assessments.

In an analysis released today, WWF criticised the hydropower project’s Environmental Impact Assessment and Social Impact Assessment, finding both “riddled with problems such as inappropriate research methods”.

Laos submitted the assessments to the Mekong River Commission – the intergovernmental river regulatory body – last September, along with notification of plans to move ahead with the 260-megawatt dam.

“It is the responsibility of the developer to consider all impacts and mitigation measures needed by their project,” WWF-Cambodia country director Chhith Sam Ath told the Post yesterday. “We are very concerned with the poor quality of this impact assessment and are asking Laos and the developers to be responsible and not build until significant and thorough research is conducted.”

An international team of fishery experts compiled the WWF review after scrutinising the dam’s documents for several months, according to Sam Ath. Their findings substantiated Cambodian officials’ concerns about the project, which is located less than two kilometres north of the border with Laos.

“The project documents lack of information and certainty on the proposed fish migration mitigation measures during the dry season and lack trans-boundary assessment on … the downstream impacts,” said Te Navuth, secretary general of the Cambodian National Mekong Committee.

Most problematically, the WWF study claims Malaysian developer Mega First Berhad’s assessment of impacts on fish migration, fisheries and endangered Mekong species like the giant catfish and Irrawaddy dolphin are “purely speculative”.

“When we’re talking about livelihoods and food security, there should not be any data gaps or missing information about impacts that need to be filled in,” Sam Ath said.

The Don Sahong’s developers did not return request for comment yesterday.

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