Spanish version

ENVIRONMENT

Work on Barro Blanco project suspended

The project, which is widely opposed by residents of the Comarca Ngäbe Buglé, is 95 percent complete.

Spanish version

Temas:

National environmental authority Anam yesterday ordered work on the Barro Blanco hydroelectric project suspended.

The agency made the decision based on its findings that the developers of the project had violated aspects of the environmental impact assessment (EIA). The project is located on the Tabasará River in Tolé, Chiriquí.

Anam Administrator said the developers Generadora del Istmo (Genisa) and Hidráulica San José, did not have a management plan in place for the protection of archaeological finds, and that measures to prevent erosion and sedimentation were not in place.

Genisa officials noted that they have not yet been notified of the suspension. The project is 95 percent complete.

"The company has fulfilled these commitments so far," said Aldo López, vice president and general manager of Genisa.

The decision was applauded by residents of the Comarca Ngäbe Buglé who are opposed to the project.

"It was the least that the authorities could do," said Ricardo Miranda, leader of the anti-hydro group April 10 Movement.

That group had planned protests starting next week against the project. It was likely those protests would have closed the Pan-American Highway at Tolé.

In a press conference at the Foreign Ministry, Endara said that the suspension is temporary and is not part of the negotiations among the developers, the government and the comarca leaders.

"This is an administrative process," she said, adding that the company can appeal the decision.

López said that the developers have always maintained a dialogue with the indigenous community, saying more than 40 meetings were held prior to the project beginning. If the project is cancelled, he said the company would seek up to $500 million in damages.

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