Cambodia's largest hydropower plant to date, the Stung Russey Chrum, is operational.
The 338-megawatt dam, located in Koh Kong’s Mondul Sima district forest, produced and transmitted electricity to Phnom Penh last month, according to its developer, China Huadian Corporation.
“It is the biggest and best dam we have built in Cambodia,” Le Jianhua, deputy general manager of the project, said.
Le said the $496 million plant was successfully completed ahead of schedule in late 2013, and has already sold 1,900 million kilowatt hours to Electricite du Cambodge.
Although registered through the UN as a carbon offsetting project, the Stung Russey Chrum has garnered criticism from environmental groups.
“This project encroaches on the national park and poses a potential threat to the area’s biodiversity,” said Ame Trandem, International Rivers’ Southeast Asia program director. “First of all, there was a lot of destruction of wildlife throughout the construction process. There is also the problem of logging and clearing forest around the construction site, and the dams change the hydrology and natural flow of the river.”
Kong Chhet, provincial coordinator for rights group Licadho, said locals have found the plant disruptive. “It is in the forest area with no people living there, but some fishermen complained about water pollution affecting their daily fishing,” he said.
Le maintained that the dam does not pose any environmental risks, and China Huadian general manager Sun Yangtan said the site’s big timber was logged before the project began.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY LAIGNEE BARRON