Mekong Utility Watch

Laos earthquake shakes dam plans

(February 25, 2011) An earthquake in Xayaboury, central Laos, raised further questions about government plans to build a hydropower dam in the province, media reports and observers said Friday.

The quake measuring 4.7 on the Richter scale occurred late Wednesday and was felt 140 kilometres away in the capital Vientiane where houses shook, the Vientiane Times said.

The quake caused no damage, the state-run newspaper reported.

However, it put the spotlight on controversial plans to build a hydropower dam on the Mekong River in Xayaboury.

‘For a long time Thai geologists have warned that Xayaboury is linked to one of the biggest fault lines running through northern Thailand,’ said Premrudee Daoroung, director of the Bangkok-based environmentalist group Towards Ecological Recovery and Regional Alliance (TERRA).

In 2007, Laos experienced a 6.1-magnitude quake in Oudomxay province, just north of Xayaboury.

‘Laos is planning a whole set of dams in this area and no one has done serious studies on the possible impact of earthquakes on these structures,’ she said.

TERRA and other international environmentalist and civil society groups are opposed to the dam because of the dramatic impact it may have on downstream fisheries on the Mekong River, which runs from southern China through Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia and Vietnam.

Although China has already built four hydropower dams on the Upper Mekong, no dams have yet been constructed on the lower stretch of the river.

The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) warned in a report last year that any dam built on the lower Mekong would threaten the livelihoods and food security of tens of millions of people in Laos, Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam.

South Asia News, February 25, 2011

Read the original article here [PDFver here]

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