17.05.00 : Thailand
: The Pak Mool dam is worse than useless
The Nation, May 15, 2000
Let's admit it. The Pak Mool dam is one of Thailand's
worst mistakes. The hydroelectric project not only falls short of
expectations on economic gains, but also generates economic losses
for thousands of fishing families in the Mool river basin.
Today more than 2,000 fishermen living along the river
will march to the notorious dam site and demand that the government
take action. They vow to make the site their stronghold until the
Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (Egat) agrees to open
all of the dam's gates to restore fisheries.
We find the proposal to decommission the Pak Mool
dam highly sensible. Since its completion in 1994, the Pak Mool dam
has done more harm than good to the country's economy, not to mention
its ecology. The dam was suppose to have an electricity generating
capacity of 136 megawatts. But today it does not generate more than
an average of 40 megawatts, partly because of a miscalculation on
water flow by Egat engineers. In August and September when the Mool
rises to become even with the level of the Mekong, the dam at the
confluence of the two great rivers generates almost no electricity.
There is simply no headwater to run the turbines. The latest important
study of the Pak Mool dam's economic viability by the World Commission
on Dams (WCD) found that the more Egat runs the dam, the higher operation
costs it has to bear. The study indicates that the miscalculation
on water flow raises the dam's daily operating costs. The WCD is an
internationally recognised independent organisation founded by the
World Bank and the dam building industries in developed countries
to assess the performance of dams worldwide. Other projects under
WCD investigation include the gigantic Grand Coulee Dam in the United
States, the Tucurui dam in Brazil and a system of 37 dams in Norway.
Although dam building more often than not involves
cost overruns, the cost of Pak Mool dam was almost double its original
estimate. In its first >feasibility study, the construction cost was
calculated at Bt3.3 billion while the actual cost when the dam was
completed was Bt5.8 billion.
Egat as a state enterprise simply passes the prices
of its mistakes onto consumers and taxpayers. If one traces Egat's
performance, Pak Mool is not the only dam having such economic problems.
Needless to say, the agency >would have gone bankrupt if it were a
Now look at what the Pak Mool dam has done to riverine
ecology and the local fishing industry. The WCD recorded that 169
out of 265 species of fish in the Mool River were affected by the
construction of the dam. Of >these, 56 species have completely disappeared.
Before the dam, Thailand's largest tributary of the
highly genetically diversified Mekong, the Mool River, was considered
one of the most fertile fishing grounds in Southeast Asia. A writer
once noted that if the Mekong were a monarch, the Mool would be the
closest to the throne in terms of natural fertility.
Such a dramatic depletion of fish in the Mool is directly
linked to the dam at the mouth of the Mool River. The dam blocks migratory
fish from swimming up from the Mekong to feed and spawn in the Mool
River during the rainy season.
Opposition against the dam from fishermen, who predicted
the consequences, prompted Egat to build a fish ladder to serve as
a passage for fish. But as predicted again by the villagers, the ladder
provided little help.
Last year, a fisherman found a nearly 100-kilogramme
fish struggling to get past the concrete dam and into the Mool. The
fish was found to have bruises all over its body and finally died
By opening wide the water gates, the river can be
restored almost to its natural condition with no need to remove the
concrete structure itself. Due to its unique design as a run-of-the-river
dam, the dam does not have a large storage reservoir. The electricity
from the Pak Mool dam can also be replaced by other alternatives.
The WCD report found that it is cheaper to generate the same amount
of power by using natural gas and bio-mass fuel.
The decommissioning of the Pak Mool dam involves little
technical complication, but requires strong political will. Public
support is needed to boost the courage of the government. Only by
admitting that the dam is a mistake can a correction be made. Thailand
is not the only country in which >people cry out loud for dam decommissioning.
The world's major dam builders, such as the United States, have gone
through the same process.
For decades, the Pak Mool and other dams - which affect
people's livelihood by taking away their land and resources - have
been symbols of unjust economic development policy. The poor and powerless
have always been told to sacrifice for the good of the nation. But
we seem to forget that the poor, who happen to be the majority in
this country, are also a part of our nation.
Southeast Asia Rivers Network (SEARIN) 25/5 Moo 2
Soi Sukhapiban 27 Changkhien-Jed yod Rd. Chang Phuek Muang Chiang
Mai 50300 Thailand
Tel&Fax (66) 53-221157
: Thailand :"Decommissioning the Pak Mun dam, open the water gate,
regain the fertility of the river"
Holding a 14-month-long demonstration next to the
Pak Mun Dam since March 23rd, 1999, at 2.00 am of May 15th, 2000,
2,500 villagers, who are members of the Assembly of the Poor at the
Mae Mun Man Yeun Village No.1, occupy the crest of Pak Mun dam and
the fish ladder. Mr. Thongcharoen Srihadham, the villagers' leader
said that "our experience has proved that the Pak Mun Dam has destroyed
the river's fertility. It has also caused the end of the peaceful
livelihood of the Pak Mun community. The fish ladder, which was proposed
to be a solution to the fish's breeding, could not be a substitution
to natural river for fish to migrate upstream to breed in the Mekong
river. Hence, we are demanding that the Pak Mun dam's gate be opened
in order to regain the abundance of the Mun river. The gate opening
will also prove that if the river is not dammed, fish will >be able
to move upstream to breed"
Mr. Thongcharoen also said that "this action is done
in a peaceful manner. We are holding fast to non-violent means. We
will not block any roads, nor will we destroy public properies. We
will definitely not use any violent actions, which will cause harm
to the general public. If any violent incidents happen, it is certain
that the AOP has nothing to do with it. It is most likely that the
incident may be created by the government officials or the EGAT's
officials to deligitimize the non-violent action of the AOP."
Mr. Thongcharoen insisted that the Pak Mun dam's seizure
will continue until the villagers' demands are achived.
Regarding the villagers' activity, since today is
the Puudchamongkon day, which is a great day for farmers, at 11.00
am. villager did a "Keun Pla Klap Wang" ceremony, which is symbolically
meant to return fish to their origin and to prolong life of fish in
the Mun river. The villagers brought a 25-kg Mekong Giant Catfish,
from the foot of the fish ladder and walked up across the dam and
let it return to the Mun River upstream of the Pak Mun dam.
Declaration of the Assembly of the Poor at the Mae
Mun Man Yeun Village, No.1
"Open the Pak Mun dam's gate, regain the fertility
of the river"
Since March 23rd, 1999 the Assembly of the Poor has
been holding a demonstration so as to demand the Thai Government to
provide a solution to villagers' problems, which are as follows; 1.
Solving problems resulting from the construction of the Pak Mun, Sirindhorn,
Lam Khan Chu and Huay La Ha Dam.
2. Stop the construction of the Pong Khun Phet and
Lam Dom Yai Dam
3.Solving problems stemming from the Chong Meg Checkpoint
4. Solving problems resulting from the Royal Forestry
Department's implementation of a protected areas stategy through the
demarcation of forest areas, where has long been inhabited by villagers,
as national reserve forest and national parks.
Throughout the 14-month-long peaceful demonstration,
it is evident that the Thai Government led by Mr. Chuan Leekpai has
not at all tried to solve the problems. Consequently, we, about 2,500
members of the Assembly of the Poor at the Mae Mun Man Yeun Village,
are compelled to occupy the crest of Pak Mun Dam and seize the fish
ladder at 2.00 am of May, 15th, 2000. We are demanding the Thai Government
and the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) to open
the Pak Mun Dam's gate so that fishes can migrate up from the Mekong
to the Mun river to breed as before. The Pak Mun Dam has destroyed
the river's abundance and livelihood of local fishermen and the >fish
ladder could not be a substitution to the natural migration route
We are demanding that the government solve the above
mentioned problems. We declare that the protest will be held in a
non-violent manner. We will not destroy any public properties, nor
will we block a road, nor use any other violent means.
As thousands of police are ordered to stand by at
the Pak Mun site, which has a tendency to lead to the use of force
in order to disperse the protesters. We are anticipating that the
EGAT may create a situation which will justify the suppression of
demonstrators by using the government's armed polices. We declare
that any violent actions will definitely not be caused by us.
Lastly, we would like to request our alliances, the
media and other concerned people not to let our struggle go in insulation.
We are fighting for the rights, livelihood and future of our younger
generation on behalf of the poor people, who has long been deprived
of the process of decision making in any developmental projects and
resource allocation for the past four decades. With solidarity,
The Assembly of the Poor at the Mae Mun Man Yuen
: Narmada : Novelist seeks to bring a sense of reality to Cannes
the Guardian Thursday May 11, 2000
Arundhati Roy brought a sharp dose of reality to
the Cannes film festival yesterday by calling for an end to a massive
Indian dam project she said would impoverish millions of the world's
The emotional plea from the Booker prize-winning
novelist - a member of the jury which will decide the Palme d'Or -
came as a typically Cannes tantrum over a ban on late night beach
parties threatened to overshadow the first day of the festival.
Roy, 36, who was a screenwriter in India before The
God of Small Things brought her worldwide fame,said that having just
arrived from the Narmada valley in central India, where farmers have
been arrested for protesting against their land being flooded, she
found it "hard to connect" to > the media circus of Cannes.
She said: "I have just come from a world where terrible
things are happening and the lives of millions of people are being
ruined. One journeys between powerlessness and power. I wish that
only a few of the cameramen and journalists who are here today could
have been in the Narmada valley to witness the terrible things I have
Roy, who has campaigned against the network of 165
dams, the world's biggest, since she won the Booker three years ago,
said: "It's a sign of the times that I have been called an activist
here today. It's a writer's business to comment on the world we live
in - but when you do you get called an activist." She said the dam
would be an environmental as well as an economic disaster for the
valley, swamping a 150-mile stretch of some of the most beautiful
and fertile land in India. Her comments were met with an awkward silence
in the Palais du Cinema, where the main films in the Cannes competition
are shown. Roy was hurried out of the building by security guards
when the Guardian tried to question her further.
The Independent, London 11 May 2000
Moral responsibility (and early closing) give the
first day of Cannes an unusual sobriety
The organisers of the opening day of the world's
most glamorous film festival didn't know what hit them yesterday,
as movie glitz and excess came under attack from all directions.
First, the Cannes festival's decision to have a Booker
Prize-winning political activist on the jury rebounded when Arundhati
Roy told the journalists and photographers at the opening press conference
that they should be elsewhere in the world "where terrible things
Next, the town's mayor decided to order all beach
parties to end just after midnight. And then, with a French prime
minister visiting the festival for the first time, police went into
overdrive, raiding incoming trains toweed out undesirables.
It was down to the Hollywood actress Uma Thurman,
starring in the opening film Vatel, to smile seductively and say:
"I love France and I love this festival. It celebrates film and utterly
indulges the highest levels of glamour." But she must have wondered
if she'd come to the right place.
It was Roy, the author of The God of Small Things,
who first set the cat among the pigeons. Flanked on the festival jury
by performers Kristin Scott Thomas and Jeremy Irons, and directors
Luc Besson and Jonathan Demme, she admitted she was not part of the
film world. She said she had just come from the Narmada Valley in
south India where there had been anti-government protests against
the construction of a massive dam.
In an emotional and impassioned outburst she said
she felt it hard "to connect" between that and the glamour of Cannes.
She said: "To be honest, I've just come from a world where terrible
things are happening. One journeys between powerlessness and power.
I so wish that all the cameramen and all the journalists [here] were
in the places where terrible things were happening."
Having been reminded of their moral responsibilities,
the movie world was also reminded of the need for sobriety. Cannes'
mayor, Maurice Delauney, sent off a memo to hotels and party organisers
informing them that all beach parties (the high point in Cannes glitz
>and exclusivity) must end promptly at 12.30am.
15.05.00 : Native Americans Win Reparations
for 1957 Dam
Lincoln Journal Star, 27 March, 2000
River trust would help area tribes SIOUX FALLS, S.D.
-- A $200 million Missouri River trust fund would
move American Indian tribes closer to compensation for land lost to
federal dams, a tribal leader said.
"In the spirit of what our people gave up, it could
never entirely make up for that," said Michael Jandreau, chairman
of the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe. "But this is realism. South Dakota
gets the benefit totally, and the individual interests of the state
and the tribes also get assistance. It puts us in a situation where
we really have to work together for the preservation of our resources."
Sen. Tom Daschle, D-S.D., has introduced legislation to create a Missouri
River Trust Fund to help control silt and erosion, improve recreation
>and protect cultural sites along the river.
At current siltation rates, the Lewis and Clark reservoir
near the>Nebraska-South Dakota border -- will be completely clogged
with silt within 75 years, he said. When fully realized in 11 years,
the fund >would provide $12 million a year in interest for work primarily
in South Dakota, Daschle said Friday. He said he will ask for an annual
appropriation of $10 million.
The legislation also sets up a 25-member board to
oversee spending from the fund. Fifteen members would be appointed
by South Dakota Gov. Bill Janklow and 10 would be from American Indian
tribes -- including nine in South Dakota and North Dakota's Three
Affiliated >Tribes. > >The makeup of the board gives tribes fair representation,
"It can't be much better than that, can it?" he said
Friday. "We'll be able to access trust funds allowing us to deal more
significantly with our natural resources." The Lower Brule, Crow Creek,
Cheyenne River and Standing Rock Sioux, Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara
tribes lost thousands of acres of land to federal dam projects on
For years, the tribes and the state have been seeking
full compensation for those losses. Congress already has approved
legislation introduced by Daschle returning thousands of acres of
federal land along the reservoirs to the state and to the Lower Brule
and Cheyenne River tribes. That legislation also creates separate
trust funds that eventually will reach $108 million for the state,
$42.4 million for the Cheyenne River reservation and $14.9 million
for the Lower Brule. Interest >from those funds will be used to manage
and improve recreation and wildlife habitat.
The $200 million trust fund could provide additional
money for an even greater variety of work including bank stabilization,
sediment control and the protection of historic grave sites. Daschle
said Missouri River concerns must be addressed immediately.
Plugged channels already have caused flooding in Pierre
and Fort Pierre, where a $35 million home buyout project is in the
Springfield Mayor Norm Schelske said he hopes restoration
work can begin soon. Silt has filled in channels and hurt recreation
in his community, he said.
"If would be nice if Senator Daschle could get that
money all at once, but I'm sure he knows getting some each year to
get started will be easier. I think he's on the right track," said
Schelske. Rep. John Thune, R-S.D., said the trust fund was a good
idea. But he wonders whether enough funding can be found. "I question
how they will capitalize the trust fund," said Thune. "The dollar
amount that the senator has proposed is totally inadequate for remedies
he has suggested." Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., said he would co-sponsor
"It will give those who have concerns about the river
an opportunity to voice their opinions and make certain the Missouri
will be protected for years to come," he said.
11.05.00 : Letter
to 'Down to Earth' on World Water Forum
Letter to 'Down to Earth' on World Water Forum
Down to Earth's special report on the Hague World
Water Forum (Vol. 8, No. 23) states that "the real issues of global
water management took a backseat" as anti-dam protesters "hijacked"
the meeting. I suppose it is a compliment for anti-dam groups that
you believe we were able to hijack the massive jamboree, but I find
it puzzling that Down to Earth should imply that large dams are not
a "real issue" in global mismanagement of water and that activists
should not have sought to respond to the deluge of pro-dam propaganda
at the Forum.
You also state that CSE's message that the problem
is not one of water scarcity but rather water mismanagement, was a
"lone, odd voice". Yet the statement released at the meeting from
International Rivers Network and a global coalition of anti-dam groups
including the Narmada Bachao Andolan discusses the "myth of a global
water shortage crisis" and says that "the >>problem is largely one
of mismanagement and politics - of overconsumption, waste, pollution,
watershed degradation, rampant dam building". It appears to me that
CSE and the anti-dam groups have the same message on the global water
situation so I wonder why Down to Earth seeks to drive a wedge between
I was also rather surprised to see myself quoted as
being dismissive of the speech on community water management by Sunita
Narain, deputy director of CSE. In fact I started my speech (which
focussed on the big dam lobby's influence at the World Water Forum)
by saying that I would not address the issue of sustainable water
management precisely because this had already been so eloquently covered
in the two previous talks by both Ms Narain and >>Reema Nanavaty of
I believe that groups opposing large dams and those
implementing sustainable water management are fighting the same battle.
Movements against dams have opened political space for debates and
practical work on sustainable and equitable alternatives, while those
working on alternatives (such as CSE) have strengthened the case against
large dams. It would be helpful if Down to Earth did not seek to fabricate
a spurious split between us.
Yours faithfully McCully Campaigns Director International
Berkeley, California, USA
11.05.00 : China three gorges
: Press Advisory: New Corruption Scandal further Discredits Wall Street
Press Advisory May 8, 2000 International Rivers Network
Contact: Doris Shen Tel: 510-848-1155 ext 317
Chinese Engineers Petition Government to Delay Three
Gorges Dam New Corruption Scandal further Discredits Wall Street Financed
A group of 53 Chinese senior engineers and academics
has made an urgent appeal to China's leaders to rethink plans for
the Three Gorges Dam.
The petition(1) warns that filling the reservoir as
planned could have dire consequences for hundreds of thousands of
people living in the Three Gorges area and for navigation along the
Yangtze River.The petition was submitted on March 3rd, 2000. About
one-third of the signatories are former members of the Chinese People's
Political Consultative Conference, the official political advisory
body to the state government. The petition, written by Lu Qinkan,
a leading hydrologist who worked on the dam's original feasibility
study, calls for a return to the original plan of delaying reservoir
filling so that experts would have time to monitor sediment buildup
and to determine if higher water levels are viable. This would also
provide some relief for resettlement authorities, the experts argue,
who are faced with the costly and difficult task of resettling up
to 1.8 million people out of the Three Gorges region.
Maintaining the Three Gorges reservoir at 156 meters
would reduce the number of people who have to be moved by an estimated
520,000. The original plan, approved by the National People's Congress
in 1992, aimed to keep water levels behind the Three Gorges dam at
156 meters for the first ten years of operation. During this time,
experts could evaluate the impact of sedimentation on navigation and
ports at the reservoir's uppermost end. If feasible, the water level
would then be raised to a final operating level of 175 meters between
the dam's 17th and 20th year of operation. In 1997, dam officials
changed the plans to maximize the dam's power output. The water level
is currently scheduled to rise to 175 meters in the sixth year of
operation. Three Gorges Dam proponents have announced that two more
dams will be built on Yangtze tributaries upstream of the Three Gorges
reservoir to trap the inflow of sediment. The experts' petition claims
the proposed dams will have no effect on sedimentation at the reservoir's
The petition listing the experts' concerns comes at
the same time as yet another corruption scandal engulfs the dam. The
Hong Kong South China Morning Post, revealed on May 3rd that the head
official at the Three Gorges Economic Development Corporation (TGEDC)
has embezzled at least one billion RMB, about 125 million. The TGEDC,
a subsidiary of the Three Gorges Project Construction Committee, and
supervised by the Three Gorges Resettlement Bureau, went bankrupt
in1999. The company, which employed 2,600 people, has ceased operations.
This news comes on the heels of a government audit
that revealed resettlement officials embezzled about $57.7 million
- equivalent to 12 percent of the total 488 million resettlement budget.
Embezzled money was used to speculate on stocks, real estate and was
also transferred to personal accounts.
Earlier this year, the China Business Times reported
that Yuan Guolin, who until January 2000 was the deputy general manager
of the China Three Gorges Project Corporation, the company responsible
for construction and administration of the dam, said the corporation
would not be floated on the stock market because of its economic and
technical problems. Mr. Yuan also said that a review was needed on
whether the project could sell its output after it began generation
International environmental and human rights groups
have targeted global investment banks including Morgan Stanley Dean
Witter, Salomon Smith Barney of Citigroup, Credit Suisse First Boston
and Merrill Lynch for their participation in underwriting China Development
Bank Bonds in January 1997 and May 1999. China Development Bank lists
the Three Gorges Dam as its top loan commitment. "The U.S. Wall Street
financing of non-performing enterprises that were not designed to
be effective development tools, but rather, monuments to corruption
and political vested interests, is highly irresponsible" says IRN.
"From the beginning, the Three Gorges Dam has been
a political project, promoted only by those who would have personal
financial and political gain" says Dai Qing, the project's most outspoken
critic. Dai Qing's 1989 publication of "Yangtze! Yangtze!", a collection
of essays by hydrologists, sociologists, and engineers critical of
the project, led to her eleven month imprisonment. Distribution of
"Yangtze! Yangtze!" and other criticism of the project's impacts is
not allowed. Public access to the state conducted environmental and
social impact assessments is denied.
(1) For a copy of the petition, translated and summarized
by Canadian NGO Probe International, please see www.nextcity.com/probeinternational/ThreeGorges/tgp/tgp17.html
IRN is currently working with an international coalition
of NGOs to halt all foreign support for Three Gorges Dam until public
debate of the project is allowed in China and the civil and economic
rights of those facing displacement by the project are secured. A
North American consumer boycott of Morgan Stanley Dean Witter's Discover
Card Credit Services is underway until the company adopts environmental
and social policies governing core >>business operations.
For more information, please see: www.floodwallstreet.org
International Rivers Network www.irn.org
10.05.00 : Mining Industry:
A Heavy Legacy to the Environment
New Risk Assessment by WWF
Vienna, 4. May 2000. Romania will need international
support in order to cope with the effects of the mining industry on
the environment. This show first results of an investigation, con-ducted
by mining experts in the ore mining area at the Upper Tisza River.
The report has been commissioned by the WWF Danube-Carpathian Programme
Office and will be published by mid-May
. "We have to avoid a heavy environmental legacy of
not only local, but regional scope for the whole Tisza area", states
Prof. Karl E. Lorber in an initial risk assessment, recently performed
in the Mara-mures region. He is assuming that, in the long run, the
mining industry in this Northern Romanian region will have to be abandoned
due to economic reasons, and in spite of the difficult social situation.
The recent spills at mining tailing lagoons highlight
a specific problem for this area. In addition to gold and silver,
copper, zinc, lead, iron and arsenic are present in a sulphide state.
Upon contact with air, pyrite oxidation occurs. Micro-organisms are
forming sulphuric acid, and heavy metals become soluble, thus getting
into surface and groundwater that is being used for drinking. "It
is time to take appropriate protection measures", says the WWF expert.
"At present, the NOVAT Dam, broken on March 10, 2000,
is still a risk to the environment," states Prof. Lorber after his
recent mission to the area. A new analysis of the reasons for the
breaking of the dam includes:
· Absence of a security system: There was no gravity
overflow device for the water in order to prevent high waters;
· Insufficient capacity of the pumps, making them
unable to cope with the additional rain, melting snow, and slope water;
· The safety distance between the water surface and
the top of the dam was too little. Due to a set-back in production,
the main dam was only built up to a fourth of the level it should
have achieved at the time of the accident. Extreme conditions, like
exceptional precipitation (e.g. once in a century) had not been taken
"Urgent safety measures have still not been taken",
Philip Weller, Director of the WWF Danube Carpathian Programme Office
in Vienna states. He is requesting immediate reconstruction of the
lowest of the protecting dams and the sedimentation pond, as at present,
particles contaminated with heavy metals can still make their way
into the Tisza river. "Additionally, a draining system for high waters
has to be installed immediately to prevent the catastrophe from recurring.
The AURUL gold processing plant is still reason for concern," says
Weller. The reason for this is that the safety distance between the
water surface and the top of the dam is insufficient. The gold production
has ceased, and repair work is ongoing. WWF experts point out that
several security measures have to be put in place immediately, one
of them being a tailing pond for hypo-chloride treatment of over-flowing
For further information, please contact: Philip Weller,
Director, Tel. +43 488 17 257 Jasmine Bachmann, Freshwater Office,
Tel. +43 1 488 17 270 Claire Thilo, Communications Coordinator, +43
1 488 17 271
10.05.00 : Bergbau in Maramuresch
hinterlässt schweres Umwelt-Erbe
Fazit einer WWF-Risiko-Analyse
Wien, 4. Mai 2000. Rumänien benötigt dringend internationale
Unterstützung bei der Bewälti-gung der Auswirkungen der Minenindustrie
auf die Umwelt. Dies zeigen erste Resultate einer Untersuchung, die
Bergbau- und Umwelt-Experten im Auftrag des WWF Donau-Karpaten-Programmes
an der oberen Theiss vorgenommen haben. Der detaillierte Bericht wird
Mitte Mai vorgestellt.
Das Experten-Team unter Leitung von Prof. Karl E.
Lorber geht in einer ersten Risikoeinschätzung davon aus, dass der
Bergbau in der nordrumänischen Gegend von Maramuresch aus wirtschaftlichen
Gründen - trotz aller damit verbundenen sozialen Probleme - mittelfristig
eingestellt werden wird. „Dabei dürfen keine Altlasten zurückbleiben.
Sie würden nicht nur lokal, son-dern im gesamten Raum der Theiss (Tisza)
enorme Umweltprobleme bewirken", betont Prof. Lorber. Ein Grund dafür
liegt in dem für diese Bergbauregion speziellen Problem: Neben Gold
und Silber liegen dort Kupfer, Zink, Blei, Eisen und Arsen in sulfidischer
Form vor. Bei Luft-Kontakt tritt die sogenannte Pyrit-Oxidation auf,
wobei Mikroorganismen Schwefelsäure bilden und Schwermetalle löslich
werden. Diese gelangen dann ins Oberflächen- und Grundwasser, welches
auch als Trinkwasser genutzt wird, was entsprechende Schutzmassnahmen
"Zur Zeit stellt der am 10. März 2000 eingebrochene
"NOVAT"-Damm in Baia Borsa noch ein Risiko für die Umwelt dar", meint
Prof. Lorber nach seinem kürzlichen Besuch vor Ort. Es liegen nun
auch weitere Erkenntnisse über die Ursachen für den Dammbruch vor:
· Es gab kein Sicherheitssystem. Ein Ueberlauf mit
Schwerkraft-Ableitung des Wassers zur Hochwasser-Entlastung fehlte.
· Die Kapazität der Pumpen reichte nicht mehr aus,
um das zusätzliche Niederschlags- und Hang-wasser abzupumpen.
· Der Sicherheits-Abstand zwischen Wasseroberfläche
und Dammkrone war zu gering: Erstens wurde der Hauptdamm langsamer
als geplant aufgebaut und hatte deshalb zur Unfallzeit eine zu geringe
Höhe. Zudem wurden bei der Planung keine Extrem-Ereignisse wie Jahrhundert-Nieder-schläge
„Dringende Schutzmassnahmen lassen noch immer auf
sich warten", stellt Philip Weller, Direktor des WWF Donau-Karpathen-Programmes,
fest. Es müsse so schnell wie möglich der unterste Schutzdamm mit
den Sedimentationsbecken wiederhergestellt wird, damit die mit Schwer-metallen
belasteten Schlammteilchen nicht weiterhin in die Theiss gelangen.
"Zudem muss sofort ein Sicher-heitssystem zur kontrollierten Abführung
von Hochwässern installiert werden, damit sich die Katastrophe nicht
mehr wiederholen kann, sagt der WWF-Vertreter.
Auch die AURUL Goldaufbereitungs-Anlage in Baia Mare
bereitet dem WWF noch Sorgen. Bei diesem Damm ist eben-falls das Freiboard
(der Abstand zwischen Wasseroberfläche im Teich und der Dammkrone)
zu ge-ring. Zwar ist die Goldproduktion eingestellt und die Reparaturarbeiten
sind noch in Gange. Verschie-dene Sicherheitsvor-richtungen wie z.B.
ein Auffangbecken zur Hypo-chlorit-Behand-lung von Ueberstandswasser
fehlen aber nach Angaben des WWF-Experten nach wie vor.
Weitere Informationen: Philip Weller, Direktor, Tel.
+43 1 488 17 257 Jasmine Bachmann, Feuchtgebiets-Spezialistin, Tel.
+43 1 488 17 270 Claire Thilo, Kommunikationsbeauftragte, +43 1 488
17 271 Please note: English version available with C. Thilo
: Water framework leak undermines EU governments ENDS Daily -
A leaked memo from the legal service of the EU Council
of Ministers has confirmed fears that a key part of a new law setting
the framework for European water protection in coming decades will
be unenforceable. In an opinion on the current wording of the law,
the legal service says it is "difficult to understand" how the
European Commission will assess whether member states are meeting
the directive's water quality objectives.
The Commission and European Parliament are using
the revelation to cajole member states into plugging the loophole,
while environmentalists have called the development a "major turn-around"
in its campaign to convince ministers of the law's weaknesses.
.Under the draft water framework directive EU countries
will have to set water quality objectives and take measures to achieve
them. In its March 1997 legislative proposal, the Commission called
for both the objectives and the measures to be legally binding requirements.
At their first reading environment ministers accepted this for the
measures to be taken but said member states should only be required
to "aim to achieve" the objectives (ENDS Daily 9 December 1999).
Commission officials complain that they will be "unable
to handle the directive properly" if the requirement is not reinstated,
while the Parliament is using the current "conciliation" procedure
finalising the law to demand a strong wording ensuring member states
are obliged to meet the objectives (ENDS Daily 16 February). Environmentalists,
meanwhile, say that acceptance of the ministers' changes would result
in a catastrophic "deregulation" of water policy.
Now the ministers' own legal service has backed their
opponents' views: it says both the text agreed by ministers and a
compromise suggested by diplomats during the conciliation "offer considerable
room for diverging interpretation [of whether the objectives are binding]"
and even "provide some ground" for member states to argue that they
only have to "make an effort" to achieve the objectives in order to
comply with the law.
Campaigners from the European Environment Bureau (EEB)
have pounced on the leak. "The [ministers] can no longer deny the
implications of what they're doing," one said. Passing the law would
set a precedent by "repatriating responsibility for water quality
back to member states." This would eliminate the role of the European
Court of Justice, make NGOs powerless to challenge national water
protection rules and leave member states affected by water pollution
from a neighbouring country "vulnerable and without any comeback,"
Follow-up: European Commission (http://europa.eu.int/comm),
>>tel: +32 2 299 1111; EEB (http://www.eeb.org), tel: +32 2 >>289
: Dam building in Lesotho :
Multinationals judged for corruption
It takes two to tango when it comes to corruption
Sunday Times Editorial
A LANDMARK case against international corruption
begins in the Maseru High Court this week, with a number of huge
companies in the dock on charges of bribery.
These multinational companies have all been involved
in building or tendering for aspects of the massive hydroelectric
dam project in the mountains of Lesotho. They are charged with improperly
paying millions of rands in foreign currency to intermediaries who,
after taking a cut, deposited the balance into a secret Swiss bank
account held in the name of the top executive of the dam project.
The consortiums have not yet been asked to plead,
and we carefully avoid prejudging the question of whether they are
guilty of the crimes with which they are to be charged.
But the trial raises several important legal issues
likely to be significant for any subsequent case of this kind.
One is the difficulty of proving bribery if it means
showing exactly what favours were exchanged for what payments.
Suppose the prosecution has evidence of money paid
secretly by big business into the pockets of someone in a position
to influence decisions in their favour; suppose the executive concerned
takes the money without declaring it to the authorities; that all
this takes place at the very time that tenders and contracts are
being considered and awarded; and that no one involved offers any
satisfactory explanation. Would this be sufficient for a conviction?
Another problem is the question of jurisdiction.
Would the court of any country be entitled to charge and sentence
companies whose head offices and chief executives are based on the
other side of the world?
But the case also illustrates that there is another
side to the popular view of the Third World as almost inherently
corrupt and corruptible. It takes two to tango. If influential government
officials in a developing country are offered enormous bribes and
succumb to the temptation, the fault must be shared equally by those
who offer the funds to secure some considerable unfair advantage
Often those with the cash to spend on tempting officials
come from the wealthier parts of the world, and from those very
countries whose governments and business communities complain about
the corrupt practices of the Third World.
African delegates to the AfricaEurope summit in
Cairo earlier this month made this point strongly: when donors and
investors complain about corruption in Africa, they neglect to consider
the inevitable partners in crime - those First World conglomerates
which offer huge and illegal financial incentives to secure business
They corrupt officials and whole societies with
offers of unimaginable wealth, and then, when their contract is
complete, they pull out and return to Europe or the US, leaving
widespread moral and financial contamination in their wake.
It is a serious problem which must be urgently
addressed to ensure that blame is properly apportioned, that corruption
is stamped out and that development funds are properly spent so
that the poorest nations of the world can finally experience some
improvements in their lives. Many governments have complained about
international corruption and its impact on their societies; many
say they have committed themselves to taking tough action against
But so far, only Lesotho has actually done anything
to charge those it suspects of such cross-border crimes. Last year,
the Maseru government passed the Prevention of Corruption and Economic
Offences Act, making it easier to deal with future corruption of
this kind. Now it is fighting a determined battle to expose the
truth behind allegations of large-scale bribery associated with
its hydroelectric dam project.
It is a nice irony that this small, isolated country
should be setting an example to the rest of the world.