Laos builds more dams, scientists worry about Mekong’s ecosystem
VietNamNet Bridge - Instead of requesting additional data used in the building of Pak Lay hydroelectric dam in Laos, Dr Le Anh Tuan, a Mekong River expert and deputy head of the Institute for Climate Change Research at Can Tho University, believes that it would be better to cancel the project.


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Le Anh Tuan at the workshop in January



Speaking at a workshop about Pak Lay hydropower project on the Mekong in Laos, held in mid-January, Tuan stressed that Vietnam protested the development of other Laos-built hydropower dams, including Xayaburi, Don Sahong and Pak Beng.

“And now they (Laos) are building the fourth dam. No one can say for sure if they will do the fifth or the sixth,” he said.

Vietnam many times urged Laos to rethink Mekong River dam projects. The Mekong Delta will disappear in the next several decades once 10 planned hydropower dams are built on the Mekong River in Laos and Cambodia.

Pak Lay has the installation capacity of 770 MW, electricity output of 4,125 GWh, 14 electricity generation units, and water reservoir capacity of 58 million cubic meters.

The standing office of the Mekong River Commission Vietnam (MRC) cited reports on alluvium volume, water sources, ecosystem and aquatic creatures as saying that the calculation method has not been examined, and figures are very poor and inconsistent.

The Vietnam River Network (VRN) and its members said that the Lao government did not respect the opinions of non-government organizations and residential communities when building Xayaburi, Don Sahong and Pak Beng.

However, instead of proposing to reject the project, the commission requested to adjust the project, which, according to Tuan, is an unreasonable decision.

Tuan said that Vietnam needs to prove the deficiencies of the project.

“At Pak Mun hydropower dam in Thailand, a 15-meter-high pathetic has been designed, but fish still cannot overcome the height, let alone the dam, that is nearly one hundred meters high at Pak Lay.”

He also said that ‘friendly turbines’ mentioned by Pak Lay designers do not exist “Can Tho University once sent its staff to the US and met experts on turbines, and was told that there is no ‘friendly turbine’,” Tuan said.

“Don’t be delusional and too trusting of investors who commit to use ‘friendly turbines’. They just try to calm us down so that they can continue their project,” he said.

Prior to the workshop, the Vietnam River Network (VRN) and its members decided not to attend the meeting about the building of Pak Lay organized by the International Mekong River Commission in Laos last September, saying that the Lao government did not respect the opinions of non-government organizations and residential communities when building Xayaburi, Don Sahong and Pak Beng.


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Mai Lan

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