Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Lao consultants give dam the thumbs up

Lao consultants give dam the thumbs up

Lao consultants give dam the thumbs up

The controversial Don Sahong hydropower dam, which Laos says it will soon build just a kilometre from the Cambodian border, will not have significant effects on the Mekong River, according to an environmental impact assessment paid for by the dam’s builder.

Obtained yesterday, the report – prepared for Malaysian developer Mega First Corporation Berhad – says the project will actually benefit Laos, despite widespread concerns from environment groups.

“[The dam] will not have significant local or cumulative impacts on the Mekong River flows, fish migration, or fisheries,” the document says.

The EIA, submitted in January, adds that only 11 households will be relocated to make way for the project, which may have “small but positive impacts on global climate change by providing electricity that does not involve the burning of fossil fuels”.

“The health risks facing people living in the Lao PDR are higher than for those living elsewhere in the region …the hydropower project can improve this situation.”

The EIA was prepared by the National Consulting Company, which is based in the Lao capital, Vientiane, following an earlier EIA in 2007.

Laos, which has committed to building hydropower projects on the Mekong in the face of opposition from environment groups and its neighbours, pressed ahead with building the 1,285-megawatt Xayaburi dam last November.

A number of Lao ministries, including the prime minister’s office, were involved in the environmental assessment process, the Don Sahong EIA says.

Environment group International Rivers has warned that the dam “spells disaster for Mekong fish” and threatens the survival of the already endangered Irrawaddy dolphin.

Adding to these concerns, Meach Mean, a coordinator at the 3S Rivers Protection Network, said yesterday that the EIA had not considered Cambodians living downstream.

“It just focuses on the Laos side and the company that is investing . . . the communities downstream here, we have had not any consultation,” he said. “It will have a huge effect on fisheries, especially during the dry season.”

MOST VIEWED

  • Breaking: US House passes 'Cambodia Democracy Act'

    The US House of Representatives in Washington, DC, on Monday, passed the “HR 526 Cambodia Democracy Act”, also known as the Cambodia Democracy Act of 2019. If signed off by the president, the bill will allow two major sets of action to be taken against high-ranking Cambodian

  • ‘Zero-dollar’ tours under fire

    Minister of Tourism Thong Khon has blamed “zero-dollar” tour operators for the decrease in foreign tourists to Angkor Archaeological Park in the first half of this year and has called for action against them. Angkor Archaeological Park received 1.24 million foreign visitors in the first half

  • Some jobs off limits to foreigners from August

    Beginning from the second week of August, foreigners will be banned from driving taxis and tuk-tuks, as well as being motorcycle delivery drivers, street food vendors, hairdressers and product distributors among other lower-income jobs. Some white-collar jobs such as the head of human resources will

  • Chinese-owned shops are on the rise in central Phnom Penh

    Informal businesses owned by Chinese nationals are on the rise in central Phnom Penh, especially in Tonle Bassac commune, surrounding Koh Pich. Such businesses have sprung up notably in Central Market, Orussey Market, Sovanna Shopping Mall, Rattana Plaza, as well as Kakab commune across from