Brazilian judge halts Amazon dam construction
Friday 16 April 2010
A Brazilian judge has cancelled the tender process for construction of the world's third biggest hydroelectric dam in the Amazon jungle and suspended a preliminary license issued for the site.
In his decision, handed down late Wednesday, Judge Antonio Almeida Campel upheld a request from the Federal Public Ministry in Para state seeking to have authorizations to build the Belo Monte dam on the Xingu River withdrawn.
The dam's hydroelectric production capacity of 11,000 megawatts would come at the cost of submerging some 500 square kilometers (193 square miles) of land and would "require excavations equivalent to the work needed to build the Panama Canal," according to the Public Ministry.
Campel told Brazil's Institute of the Environment not to deliver a new license for the dam and ordered the National Energy Agency to halt next Tuesday's call for tenders for the contract to build the dam or face a 570,000 dollar fine for "environmental crimes."
"The Belo Monte hydroelectric dam will exploit hydro-energy in areas occupied by indigenous people who will be directly affected by the construction and development of the project," the judge said in his decision, which is subject to appeal.
Belo Monte would be the second biggest dam in Brazil and the third biggest in the world, behind the 14,000 megawatt capacity Itaipu dam in southern Brazil and the massive Three Gorges dam in China, which has a capacity of 18,000 megawatts.
A host of Hollywood stars had joined forces to block the dam, including US actress Sigourney Weaver.
"The judge threw out the auction that was supposed to happen and said there were too many irregularities and that they had probably broken some laws, and really they needed to start over with a process that deals more ethically with the communities on the river," Weaver told AFP in Washington.
"It's great that the judge did it, but it only gave us more time to keep organizing."
She called the dam "a 19th century idea" in a country with "so many solar and wind opportunities."
And she added that she had joined the protest movement after "hearing these tribal chieftains talking about their grandchildren, how the way of life that they've lived for centuries will disappear on a whole section of the Amazon."
James Cameron, director of the blockbuster movie with an environmental message "Avatar," which stars Weaver, also celebrated the development.
"We were jubilant because this was a big victory in a symbolic case and we now have time to help build global and local awareness that Brazil needs a sustainable vision and a different energy policy," Cameron said in Washington Thursday.
"We were jubilant when the bidding process was suspended, but it will probably return," he said.
Cameron was in Brazil on Monday to urge President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva to stop construction of the dam.
"I would challenge him to be a hero" by halting work on the project, Cameron told a press conference in Brasilia alongside Weaver.
Cameron, along with pop singer Sting, environmentalists and the native Brazilians who live on the banks of the Xingu River, believes the dam approved in February by the Brazilian environment ministry would pose a severe threat to the environment.
2014 is warmest year since records began - and third wettest
Investigation launched after manatee drowns at Paris zoo
The top 10 weirdest animal mating rituals
The butterfly effect: climate change ‘forced species to adapt’
The ugliest animals on earth: Blobfish, axolotl and proboscis monkey battle it out to be named least attractive beast
- 1 Jeremy Clarkson 'sees no problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC
- 2 Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome: 'Abort it and try again – it would be immoral to bring it into the world'
- 3 London restaurant 34 creates champagne glass modelled on Kate Moss’ left breast
- 4 ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns, aged 27
- 5 James Foley beheading: Fox news presenter Megyn Kelly annoyed by Ferguson update during broadcast about murdered journalist
Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome: 'Abort it and try again – it would be immoral to bring it into the world'
Scottish independence: English people overwhelmingly want Scotland to stay in the UK
Isis threat: Cameron wants an alliance with Iran
Michael Brown shooting: Chaos erupts on the streets of Ferguson after autopsy shows teenager was shot six times – twice in the head
Bin bag full of cats' heads discovered near Manchester's Curry Mile
Disgusting, frustrating, but intriguing: how the country really feels about its politicians
Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Structural Engineer Job...
£25000 - £28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Generalist HR Administrator - Tunbri...
£45000 - £50000 per annum + 5 weeks holiday & benefits: Ashdown Group: Head of...
£110 - £125 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Randstad Education are ur...