Keep the Rio Tapajós Alive!

latest news: a reason to celebrate

2016-08-05: Brazil`s environmental agency IBAMA has refused to approve the São Luiz do Tapajós dam. This is a great victory for the campaign lead by Greenpeace, its 1.2 million supporters worldwide and the folk of the Mundurukú which is living there. Brazil`s environment minister José Sarney Filho called the mega dam “dispensable”. The same energy could as well be generated by clean energy alternatives like wind, solar and biomass. However he also stated that the future environmental licensing process will no more be influenced by Brazil`s indigenous agency FUNAI. FUNAI`s analysis of the irreversible impacts that the dam would have caused to the Mundurukú people was key to the project`s cancellation. Neither has the territory of the Mundurukú been officially acknowledged by Brazil yet. Nonetheless the cancellation of the São Luiz do Tapajós dam is an important victory which saves the Mundurukú people as well as one of the most species-rich areas with hundreds of endangered animal and plant species.

about the planned mega-dam

The Brazilian government is planning to build a megadam on the Rio Tapajós similar to Belo Monte on the Rio Xingu. This would destroy one of the most species-rich areas and displace many people who live alongside the river. The indigenous folk of the Mundurukú would lose its base of live. The construction is not possible without a resepective perversion of justice including the environmental auditing of the project as well as the right of the Mundurukú to live on their ancestral land as guaranteed by the constitution.

The climate bilance of the project is consistently negative not only as there will escape a lot of methane out of the large, flat, flooded area where the trunks of the trees rot. Dozens of hydroelectric power stations are planned until 2013; 43 barrages just in the Tapajós basin.

The water power station at the Rio Xingu which is already operating is the most inefficient hydroelectric power station of the whole country. During the dry season it does produce no more than 39% of the potentially exploitable energy.

The project is overshadowed by a huge bribery and kickback scandal. Dalton Avancini, president of the civil construction empire Camargo Correa, had confirmed in testimony to federal police and public prosecutors that Camargo Correa paid R$100 million (US$30 million) in bribes to two political parties – Rousseff´s Workers´ Party (PT) and its main ally in the ruling coalition, PMDB – in exchange for construction contracts for the Belo Monte dam.

Even worse we will have to assume that the project would never have been realized without the kickback as Christian Poirier from Amazon Watch told us: ‘These revelations confirm what we´ve suspected all along: that projects like Belo Monte are not only an enormous source of corruption, but actually exist because of corruption. It´s high time that Belo Monte´s backers be held to task for deceiving Brazilian taxpayers while looting public coffers.’ … ‘Taxpayer funds that could be invested in truly sustainable energy solutions such as upscaling solar and wind power, have instead been diverted into wasteful and destructive projects such as Belo Monte.’.

The pattern under which these kinds of projects are carried out are pretty well known to us in a very similar fashion from John Perkin`s book of disclosure “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man”. You can read there how hoplessly overdimensioned infrastructure projects are obtruded onto developing countries. These projects are based on manipuated economic growth predictions and are designed to lure policy makers into the “debt trap”. Once these countries are highly indebted they can no more pay for social welfare and the education of their people.

In the case of Belo Monte everything was centered around the establishment of energy intense industry in the Amazonian basin like aluminium smelters. Aluminium smelters require a huge amount of energy by performing electrolysis to gain the pure metal and produce a lot of acidly and toxic waste known as red mud. As red mud is known to escape from the huge collection ponds on intense rainfalls as they are frequent in the Amazon the aluminium smeltering does not only cause intense harm to workers but to the whole population. All of it just in order to keep and establish the wasteful usage of a metal that should in deed not be used for beverage cans.