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Disasters

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  • Ecosystems in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta have already suffered damage due to exploitation of resources, and plans for large dams will only increase the level of damage, according to more than 200 experts who attended at a forum in Ca Mau province this past weekend.
  • The Laotian government last week invited journalists to the site of the controversial $3.5 billion USD Xayaburi Dam for tours, interviews, and the release of a report all claiming that the Mekong River dam will not harm the basin’s environment, because potential issues will be mitigated through design and construction.
  • If the hydropower projects planned within the Mekong River basin are completed, they will accumulate as much as 16 percent of the river’s water volume, or 475 billion cubic meters a year, according to Dr. Chu Thai Hoanh of the International Water Management Institute (IWMI).
  • Laotian authorities last week signed an updated eight-year-old deal with Russian investor Regional Oil for construction of three hydropower projects on Mekong River tributaries.
  • On the same day that Thailand’s government come out in support of Laos’ decision to immediately begin construction of the controversial Xayaburi Dam on the Lower Mekong River, international environmental NGO WWF issued a warning that construction puts environment and livelihoods in “grave danger.”
  • Finland’s government has declared its intention to scrutinize the role of Finnish engineering firm the Pöyry Group in the divisive Xayaburi Hydropower Project on the Mekong River in Laos.
  • Environmental conservation groups, including WWF and International Rivers, have come out in the last week with criticism over a new Laotian government report that claims a redesigned Xayaburi Dam will address all the environmental problems associated with its construction.
  • Tensions are rising again over the proposed Thai-funded Xayaburi Dam project in Laos. Last December in Siem Reap, Cambodia, the Mekong River Commission Council, representing Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand, debated the 1,260-megawatt dam’s future. Delegates decided that a fuller study of the dam’s impact was needed before further development.