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Kampot Power project could pollute water

Kampot Power project could pollute water

The Kamchay Dam under construction near Kampot needs a complete environmental impact

study or the water supply in Kampot will be polluted, says a new report on Cambodia's

hydro electric power development and China's involvement.

"We do not oppose the Chinese development project," said Ngy San, deputy

executive director of NGO Forum on Cambodia, which plans to release its report January

28. "But we have concerns and the company has to study deeply and evaluate the

impact before starting the construction."

San said Kamchay Dam was started before conducting an environmental impact assessment

study. He said the dam project was the result of an agreement between the heads of

the governments of the two countries and that based on the NGO Forum study, in five

to 10 years the water in Kampot will be polluted.

"We in civil society welcome consultants but they never came to talk to us,"

he said.

The 180 megawatt Kamchay Dam was licensed by the government to Chinese firm Sinohydro

in February 2006. It is to be finished by 2010. The firm is investing $280 million

in the project and will run it for 40 years on a build-operate-transfer basis.

Sinohydro's general affairs officer Kim Sovan told the Post that the company did

a study of the impact of the project and made a detailed report to Ministry of Environment

(MoE).

"All development projects have impacts," Sovan said. "My company has

solved most all of the impacted villagers by compensating them with an agreement."

"We will provide benefits to the local people after our project is completed,"

he said. "We develop the area not to destroy and hurt them."

Sovan said Sinohydro is one of the biggest hydropower companies in China. Since starting

in Cambodia, the project has run smoothly with support from local authorities and

it will be completed ahead of schedule, he said.

The dam is being built 15 km north of Kampot on the road to Teuk Chhu where several

hundred families engaged in growing fruit trees live.

Um Sereyvuth, team leader in charge of environment of SAWAC Consultants for Development,

said that Sinohydro hired his company to do an environmental impact study, which

was completed and given to the MoE before the Kamchay project started.

Sereyvuth said the impact of the Kamchay dam can be resolved and MoE saw minimal

impact and large benefits for the future.

"The dam will help to prevent flash floods in Kampot provincial town,"

he said.

In February 2007, the government also granted a license to a China Yunan Corporation

for International Techno-Economic Cooperation to develop the Steung Atai hydropower

dam.

China Yunan also studied the feasibility of building dams at Steung Russei Chrum,

Steung Chhay Areng and Steung Ta Tai at the junction of Koh Kong, Kampong Speu and

Pursat provinces.

The NGO Forum report, while focusing on Kamchay Dam, says that Chinese investment

in Cambodia's hydropower sector as a whole is threatening some of the country's most

precious ecosystems as well as the livelihood of thousands of people due to failures

to conduct proper impact assessment studies in advance.

Sam Keat, deputy director of EIA department at MoE said all development projects

have to study EIA and the Kamchay Dam project complied.

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