Laos suspends new hydropower projects after dam break

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The Lao government will suspend approval of new dams while it reviews more than 50 current projects following the catastrophic collapse of a hydropower facility late last month that left at least 34 dead, 100 still missing and more than 6,000 evacuated.

The announcement followed an August 6-7 meeting of the country’s cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith at which plans were also made to carry out safety inspections of all hydropower projects already built or under construction in the country.

Inspections will be conducted by the Ministry of Energy and Mines, the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment and the Ministry of Science and Technology with the help of international experts, the Vientiane Times wrote in an August 8 report.

A high-ranking Lao official suggested that the collapse of the Xe Pian Xe Namnoy hydropower project in Champassak province on July 23 was the result of faulty construction and said the project’s developer should be held accountable.

Laos has been on a dam-building spree in recent years as it tries to harness the power of the Mekong and other rivers and sell electricity to other countries as a form of income. However, the projects are controversial for their environmental impacts and financial arrangements.

Meanwhile, Lao villagers displaced by the flooding following the dam’s collapse are filling temporary tent shelters in Attapeu province’s Sanamxay district as concerns mount over health and sanitary conditions at the site, Lao sources say. Diseases are now spreading among the nearly 3,000 residents of the camp, including diarrhea, eye infections and skin rashes, according to Radio Free Asia.

Adding to this, many of the displaced are sheltering in areas contaminated by landmines, humanitarian aid workers said. Attapeu Province in southern Laos was “highly contaminated” by unexploded ordnance, they noted, with almost 320 hectares in Sanamxay district, being confirmed as “hazardous areas”.

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

The Lao government will suspend approval of new dams while it reviews more than 50 current projects following the catastrophic collapse of a hydropower facility late last month that left at least 34 dead, 100 still missing and more than 6,000 evacuated.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

The Lao government will suspend approval of new dams while it reviews more than 50 current projects following the catastrophic collapse of a hydropower facility late last month that left at least 34 dead, 100 still missing and more than 6,000 evacuated.

The announcement followed an August 6-7 meeting of the country’s cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith at which plans were also made to carry out safety inspections of all hydropower projects already built or under construction in the country.

Inspections will be conducted by the Ministry of Energy and Mines, the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment and the Ministry of Science and Technology with the help of international experts, the Vientiane Times wrote in an August 8 report.

A high-ranking Lao official suggested that the collapse of the Xe Pian Xe Namnoy hydropower project in Champassak province on July 23 was the result of faulty construction and said the project’s developer should be held accountable.

Laos has been on a dam-building spree in recent years as it tries to harness the power of the Mekong and other rivers and sell electricity to other countries as a form of income. However, the projects are controversial for their environmental impacts and financial arrangements.

Meanwhile, Lao villagers displaced by the flooding following the dam’s collapse are filling temporary tent shelters in Attapeu province’s Sanamxay district as concerns mount over health and sanitary conditions at the site, Lao sources say. Diseases are now spreading among the nearly 3,000 residents of the camp, including diarrhea, eye infections and skin rashes, according to Radio Free Asia.

Adding to this, many of the displaced are sheltering in areas contaminated by landmines, humanitarian aid workers said. Attapeu Province in southern Laos was “highly contaminated” by unexploded ordnance, they noted, with almost 320 hectares in Sanamxay district, being confirmed as “hazardous areas”.

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