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Pacuare Dam Project’s Impact Study Rejected

March 11, 2005

THE National Technical Secretariatof the Environment (SETENA) has rejectedan environmental-impact study for aproposed hydroelectric dam on thePacuare River, in the Caribbean provinceof Limón.On Monday, SETENA, part of theEnvironment Ministry, issued a ruling toreject the study presented by the CostaRican Electricity Institute (ICE) on Oct.2, 1997, the daily La Nación reported.The hydroelectric dam, with thecapacity to generate 157 megawatts,would have been inaugurated in 2010 asone of ICE’s priority plans for expansion,said the daily.However, a lack of information aboutthe environmental and social impact ofthe dam on the neighboring communitiesof Turrialba, Siquirres and the NimaríIndigenous Reserve prompted SETENAto annul the impact study.ICE’s environmental-impact studyalso lacked an evaluation of the effects ofthe dam’s discharge of waters downstreamand failed to consult with representativesof the Nimarí reserve for theirapproval, in violation of agreementsestablished by the International LaborOrganization that demand consultationwith indigenous communities when anytype of project is expected to affect theirterritory, according to La Nación.Environmental activists, including theCosta Rican Federation forEnvironmental Conservation (FECON),have celebrated SETENA’s decision.“The project was equivalent to thedeath of the river basin. It would haveended all life inside the river, especiallyfish that serve as food for the neighboringcommunities. Also, the dam would haveseverely affected the leatherback turtle’snesting on the coast because sedimentswhich allow these sea turtles to find theirnesting sites, would suffer a series ofchemical and physical changes,” FECONsaid in a statement.

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