Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Xayaburi study questioned

Xayaburi study questioned

Xayaburi study questioned

120521_05

A road leading to the proposed dam site in Xayaburi province, Laos, was constructed last year. Photograph: Bangkok post

A study the Lao government has used to claim the Xayaburi dam would be harmless if redesigned has been criticised for not addressing concerns about the project’s effect on fish in the Lower Mekong river.

Lao Vice Minister of Energy and Mines Viraponh Viravong was reported as saying last week that a redesigned Xayaburi dam in northern Laos would allow a steady flow of sediment downsteam, thus allaying environmental concerns.

“First, we hired … Poyry to do the impact study, but people were not satisfied with that. And now we have hired a French company,” he told Radio Free Asia. “This study … confirms that if the Lao government wants to let the dam be redesigned, there will be no impact on the environment.”

Viraponh Viravong did not name the study’s French authors, but conservation groups said Laos had commissioned Compagnie Nationale du Rhone (CNR) to review Poyry’s 2011 study.

Marc Goichot, sustainable hydropower manager for WWF-Greater Mekong, said CNR failed to address concerns about potential effects on fish in the Lower Mekong.

“WWF’s understanding is that the scope of the CNR review is limited to hydrology, sediment and navigation impact,” he said. “Questions about fish and fisheries raised in response to the Poyry report have not yet been addressed.”

International Rivers Southeast Asia programme director Ame Trandem said the new report was a “meaningless” attempt to woo fellow Mekong River Commission member countries.

“While Poyry sidestepped sci­­ence on the dam’s fishery impacts, the new CNR review deliberately omits the dam’s fishery impacts,” she said. “Until the transboundary impacts of the project are assessed, Laos has no basis for claiming this dam is sustainable.”

The four MRC member states – Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam and Laos – agreed in December that the 1,260-megawatt could not proceed until further studies assessed its potential impact.

Japan last month agreed to help fund a study with MRC’s other development partners.

Thai developer Ch.Karnchang said last month that construction had begun on the dam – the first of 11 along the Lower Mekong – on March 15. Laos agreed early this month to suspend construction.

Viraponh Viravong and CNR could not be reached yesterday.

To contact the reporter on this story: Shane Worrell at [email protected]

MOST VIEWED

  • EU parliament’s 13-point vote to decide on possible sanctions

    The European Parliament is due to vote on Thursday on a 13-point resolution on Cambodia – which includes a call for the treason charges against bailed opposition leader Kem Sokha to be dropped – a threat that could see the EU enforce a range of sanctions against

  • Government hits back at threats to pull EBA, suspend UN seat

    The spokesman for the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) has said the government is in no way concerned after the European Parliament gave it three months to reverse what it called the “systematic repression of the political opposition”. Ignoring the ultimatum could mean facing

  • Sar Kheng: Sokha requested security

    Interior Minister Sar Kheng on Sunday revealed the story behind the transfer of former opposition party leader Kem Sokha from Trapaing Phlong prison in Tbong Khmum province to his house in the capital. Speaking at the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) headquarters in Prey

  • PM vows to ‘protect’ Chinese interests

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Tuesday told Chinese companies investing in Cambodia not to worry about contract cancellation in the Kingdom. Speaking at a roundtable meeting with business executives in China as co-chair of the China-Asean Expo, the prime minister told six Chinese conglomerates with