Spanish version

ENVIRONMENT

Anam halts work at Barro Blanco hydro project

Anam Administrator Mirei Endara said the developers are in violation of their environmental impact assessment.

Indígenous residents happy with decision

Spanish version

Temas:

Citing environmental violations, national environmental authority Anam today ordered the temporary suspension of work at the Barro Blanco hydroelectric project along the Tabasará River in Chiriquí.

The decision was announced by Vice President Isabel de Saint Malo de Alvarado, who heads a high-level committee that is examining the project, which is widely opposed in the Comarca Ngäbe Buglé due to its impact on numerous indigenous communities.

Anam Administrator Mirei Endara today detailed a series of faults detected in the project, which is being developed by the company Generadora del Istmo (Genisa) and Hidráulica San José. They include a lack of a a management plan for archaeological finds and failure to prevent erosion and sedmentation.

Also, non-metallic material has been extracted and vegetation has been cleared without permission.

Endara said the company has dumped materials into the river and it has not coordinated with the civil defense agency Sinaproc or the Panama Fire Department over the handling of explosives and flammable substances.

Endara remarked that there are enough reasons to start an administrative process. The suspension is temporary until the issues can be addressed.

The vice president said the commission will review the report submitted by Anam technicians and the National Institute of Culture with respect to the commitments of the environmental impact study.

According to a report of the engineers who visited the site, the project is 95 percent complete.

De Saint Malo de Alvarado reiterated that the government will continue its efforts to bring the parties together in a tripartite dialogue, made up of the community, the developers and the state.

Genisa officials today appeared before the Panamanian Association of Business Executives to discuss the project, which began in 2008. They said they were surprised by the announcement, however, they expressed their willingness to continue participating in dialogue.

Indígenous residents happy with decision

Ngäbe Buglé residents from the anti-hydro group Movimiento 10 de Abril expressed their satisfaction with today's announcement that work on the Barro Blanco project is temporarily suspended.

The work has been highly criticized in the comarca due to its potential impact on the Tabasará River.

Ricardo Miranda, leader of the movement, said the decision was fair due to the deficiencies in the project. He called for the matter to be handled in a transparent manner.

The decision comes shortly before residents of the area had planned massive protests. Those protests have been delayed due to the decision of Anam.

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