The Belo Monte Dam

The Belo Monte, 11,000 watt dam will be the third largest in the world. Indigenous groups have been fighting its construction since the ’90s. It will flood 310 square miles of land and disrupt the lives of 40,000 people, mostly Indians living along the banks of the river. The lobbyists generated popular support from urban Brazillians by telling them that the electricity generated from the dam will reach their homes. Actually, the dam is 1500 miles from the cities and the purpose of its construction is to power the energy-intensive process of smelting imported aluminum, the profits of which will go offshore. Smelting produces a quantity of flouride waste: perfluorocarbons and hydrogen fluoride as gases, and sodium and aluminium fluorides and unused cryolite as particulates. These flourides are toxic to surrounding vegetation.

For the Xingu’s poor farmers, temporary employment created by the dam is not a viable replacement for lost agricultural lands and the river’s fish supply…. Mega-projects typically confront indigenous communities with disease, loss of food and clean water sources, cultural disintegration, and human-rights abuses by lumber cutters, migrant workers, and land speculators. The indirect and long term impacts of Belo Monte are of even greater concern as other unsustainable industries such as aluminum and metal refineries, soy plantations, logging, and mining expand into the area.

-Amazon Watch

The Brazilian government has plans to build more than 100 large dams in the Amazon Basin over the next 20 years. Many Brazilians believe that if Belo Monte is approved, it will represent a carte blanche for the destruction of all the magnificent rivers of the Amazon — next the Tapajos, the Teles Pires, then the Araguia-Tocantins, and so on. The Amazon will become an endless series of lifeless reservoirs, its life drained away by giant walls of concrete and steel.

-International Rivers

April 20, 2010

BRASILIA, Brazil – Indigenous groups warned of bloodshed after Brazil, which fought off three court rulings, on Tuesday awarded the rights to build the world’s third-largest hydroelectric dam in the Amazon rain forest.

The bidding for the $11 billion Belo Monte dam was halted three times before a final appeal by the government allowed the winning bidder, a private-public consortium, to be announced.

Amazon Watch

International Rivers

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