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    04.08.98 :  Yangtze River Embankments Collapse ( By The Associated Press)

    BEIJING (AP) -- Waterlogged levees along China's flood-swollen Yangtze River have started to collapse,
    wreaking death and destruction on a massive scale, state media said today. Other reports said more than 1,000
    people were missing.

    Torrential rains in southwest Sichuan province also have triggered flooding that killed at least 20 people,
    pushing the known death toll from floods caused by unusually heavy and early summer rains to 1,288.

    With a tropical storm and another flood tide expected, the threat mounted of further breaches along the
    weakened levees that protect millions of people and rich farmland from the Yangtze, the world's third-longest

    Main Yangtze dikes remain intact but secondary levees were breached in at least two counties and a city in
    central China's Hubei province, ``causing huge loss of life and property,'' the official China Youth Daily

    The newspaper gave no casualty figures. But a human rights group said 150 soldiers and hundreds of villagers
    were swept away when a levee suddenly collapsed Saturday in Hubei's Jiayu County, about 40 miles upriver from the
    industrial center of Wuhan.

    As of Monday, the bodies of nine soldiers had been recovered, said the Information Center of Human Rights
    and Democratic Movement in China. The Hong Kong-based group said more than 1,000 people were believed missing.

    Local officials have barred foreign journalists from visiting the worst flood areas, and state-controlled
    media tend to provide delayed or conflicting accounts and downplay casualties.

    The official Yangcheng Evening News said 400 soldiers were swept away when the levee that had been protecting
    56,000 people in two towns collapsed. Soldiers and police pulled nearly 20,000 people from the water, the
    newspaper said.

    In a bid to lower the Yangtze's waters, Hubei authorities abandoned 11 small dikes to divert
    floodwaters, the state-run Xinhua News Agency said. The strategy caused $48 million in flood damage, but helped
    protect Wuhan.

    More than 100,000 people lost their homes when a levee burst in Anxiang, in neighboring Hunan province, on July
    24, Xinhua reported. Victims were living in tents, ``without adequate food and drinking water,'' the agency

    In all, the 3,900-mile-long Yangtze was threatening to burst its embankments in 3,200 places, and 1,800 of
    these possible breaches were ``major,'' Xinhua said.

    ``The flood control situation along the Yangtze remains extremely serious and will remain so for the foreseeable
    future,'' it reported.

    Millions of soldiers and civilians have been working the dikes, watching for signs of collapse and plugging
    leaks, as waters on the Yangtze reached levels unseen since floods in 1954 killed more than 30,000 people.

    Aside from killing 20 people, the floods in Sichuan province in recent days also injured 370 people and left
    two others missing, Xinhua said.

    A flood peak, the fourth this year, was forming on the upper reaches of the Yangtze, the China Youth Daily

    International Rivers Network
    Doris Shen
    Three Gorges Campaign
    1847 Berkeley Way  tel:  510.848.1155 ext. 317
    Berkeley, CA 94720  fax:  510.848.1008

    27.07.98 : International Coalition For River Restoration Formed Dam Decommissioning Key Element in Strategy
    Eighteen environmental and social activist groups from seven countries in North America, Europe and Asia have announced the formation of Living Rivers: The International Coalition for the Restoration of Rivers and Communities Affected by Dams. The coalition will focus on restoring rivers and the well-being of the communities which depend on them by working to change the operating patterns of dams, drain reservoirs and remove dams.

     The decision to form the coalition was reached at a workshop on dam decommissioning held at Walker Creek Ranch, Marin County, California, on July 23-25, 1998. The workshop ended with the endorsement of the Walker Creek Declaration, the founding statement of the Living Rivers coalition.

     The Declaration notes that:

     ""Worldwide . . . rivers are degraded by hundreds of thousands of dams, which have flooded huge areas of the world's most beautiful and ecologically rich habitats and the lands and homes of tens of millions of people . . . the promised benefits of many dam projects have never been realized, and their adverse effects are more serious than predicted . . .

     "Many dams provide services for society, including the generation of electricity, the storage and diversion of water, flood protection, navigation and flat-water recreation. But we now know that these services . . . often can be met in less damaging ways . . . "

     "Many dams are now obsolete. Many have reached the end of their functional life span and no longer serve a purpose that justifies their negative impacts. Many are unsafe, threatening the lives of millions of people, as well as property, fish and wildlife.

     "For many dams the cost of maintenance and of environmental and social mitigation exceeds the benefits to be gained from dam operation. The cost of removing dams is in many cases proving less than the cost of continuing to operate them . . . removing dams is an economically, technically, socially and environmentally viable and sensible option for . . . restoring living rivers."

     The Declaration states that the "continued existence and operation of individual dams must be justified on the grounds of ecological and social impacts, economics and safety". It calls for a number of measures relating to dam decommissioning, including:

     * Evaluations of which dams should continue in operation, which should have their operations altered to mitigate adverse impacts, and which should be decommissioned or removed.

     * The preparation of decommissioning plans for all dams, whether existing, planned or under construction. These plans should include dam removal and restoration of the river, reservoir zone and floodplain.

     * Dam owners and the beneficiaries of dams must be held responsible for the costs of mitigating the impacts of their continuing operation, paying reparations for past damages, and where relevant decommissioning or removing the dams. Funding mechanisms must be established for the ecommissioning of abandoned dams or where the owner has insufficient financial resources. International agencies which have financed dams, such as the World Bank, should share the responsibility for their decommissioning.

     * Rigorous dam safety standards must be developed and enforced, including the preparation and publication of maps of areas to be flooded in the event of a dam failure, emergency evacuation plans for areas at risk, and the purchase of liability insurance. The safety records of dams must be made public.

     * Watershed management and energy plans must be developed in a participatory and transparent manner. Watershed management plans should integrate sustainable agriculture and fisheries, urban planning, flood management, water supply and environmental restoration. Regional energy plans should incorporate demand-side management and the most environmentally benign and cost-effective forms of generation.

     Living Rivers will start by disseminating information on successful dam decommissioning case studies and on river restoration. It will also work to ensure that the newly-formed World Commission on Dams will assess in depth the issue of dam decommissioning.

     For more information contact:
    Roberto Epple, European Rivers Network, France,
    +33 471 02 08 14,

    Patrick McCully, International Rivers Network, USA
    +1 510 848 1155,,

     -Sara Johnson, River Alliance of Wisconsin,
    +1 608 257 2424,,

    Shripad Dharmadhikary, Save the Narmada Movement, India
    +91 265 382232,
    Helen Gee, Pedder 2000, Australia,
    +61 3 6257 5155,


    From: "Jozsef Feiler" <>
    To: "Patrick McCully" <>
    Date: Sat, 25 Jul 1998 11:47:04 +0200
    Subject: fyi: Danube

    The cabinet headed by Viktor Orban on 23 July annulled a decision
    by Gyula Horn's government to go ahead with the construction
    of the controversial Gabcikovo-Nagymaros dam, Reuters
    reported. It said the decision of the former cabinet, taken
    in the wake of the ruling of the International Court of
    Justice in The Hague in September 1997, forced the country
    into an uneconomical "prestige project" that was also a "huge
    environmental risk." The statement said the new government
    wants to "do everything" to reach an agreement with Slovakia
    and to "uphold Hungary's legal obligations" in line with the
    decision of the court. But it stressed that Hungary will do
    so only after carrying out studies on environmental effects.
    Jozsef Feiler
    Policy Coordinator, CEE Bankwatch Network
    c/o ETK, Budapest
    Vadasz u. 29., H-1054, HUNGARY
    Tel/fax: +361 311 78 55

    "You must be the change you wish to
      see in the world."

    8/7/98 : L'EPALA refuse de financer le Plan Loire Grandeur Nature

    Communiqué de presse - 9 juillet 1998
    La suspension des crédits de l’EPALA au plan Loire repose la question de l’utilité de l’EPALA

     Le Comité syndical de l’EPALA a voté ce jour la suspension de tout engagement financier nouveau de l’EPALA dans le cadre du plan Loire, assortie d’une demande d’indemnité correspondant aux dépenses de l’EPALA sur l’opération de Chambonchard. L’EPALA considère, en effet, comme une rupture unilatérale du partenariat du plan Loire, l’absence de déblocage du financement de l’Etat en faveur du barrage de Chambonbchard.

     Pour justifier sa décision, l’EPALA énumère les différentes décisions prises en faveur de Chambonchard depuis le protocole d’accord entre l’Etat, l’EPALA et l’Agence de l’Eau de 1986, ce qui est encore le meilleur moyen d’éluder la question de fond qui est : un barrage pour quoi faire ?

     Les interrogations exprimées à l’Assemblée Nationale et à Montluçon par Madame Voynet, Ministre de l’Aménagement du Territoire, ont au contraire le mérite de poser ces problèmes.

    Comme nous ne cessons de le répéter, les besoins en eau potable, industrielle et agricole ne nécessitent pas la création d’une nouvelle retenue et l’amélioration de la qualité de l’eau passe par un renforcement des efforts de dépollution et non par le recours au soutien d’étiage.

     En transformant un débat d’utilité publique en marchandage avec l’Etat, l’EPALA réduit le plan Loire à une dimension strictement politicienne et démontre une nouvelle fois son incapacité à être l’acteur d’une gestion moderne des besoins des populations dans le respect des équilibres naturels.

     Avec la menace de l’EPALA de ne plus financer les études sur la Loire moyenne et les mesures environnementales, ce n’est pas la nécessité de poursuivre le plan Loire qui est en cause. C’est en revanche la question de l’utilité de l’EPALA qui est posée !

    Christine Jean, Comité Loire Vivante
    02 40 48 05 73
    Roberto EPPLE, SOS Loire Vivante
    06 08 62 12 67
    04 71 05 57 88

    9/7/98 : Dam Break Kills 43 People in Kyrgyzstan

    MOSCOW (AP) - A dam break that flooded villages in a mountainous border region in Central Asia has killed 43 people, a news agency reported today.
    The dam broke Wednesday on the Kuban-Kel lake, which forms the border between the former Soviet republics of Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. Officials reported Wednesday that 38 people were killed, and said today that five more victims had been found, the Interfax news agency reported.
    Many of the deaths were in the mountainous Kadamzhai district in western Kyrgyzstan and in the Shakhimardan district in eastern Uzbekistan.

    02.07.98 : Hochwasser-Vorsorge an der Oder genuegt nicht

    Date: Thu, 2 Jul 1998 11:11:32 +0200 (MET DST)
    From: WWF Infostelle <info@WWF.DE>

    Hochwasser-Vorsorge an der Oder genuegt nicht
    WWF warnt: Bei der naechsten Flut wieder hohe Schaeden / Ueberflutungsflaechen fehlen
    Rastatt, 2. Juli 1998. Ein Jahr nach dem katastrophalen Hochwasser an der Oder stellte das Auen-Institut der Umweltstiftung WWF-Deutschland noch immer erhebliche Maengel beim Hochwasserschutz fest. "Selbst eine schwaechere Flut als die im letzten Sommer wuerde heute aehnlich hohe Schaeden verursachen", urteilte Georg Rast, Referent fuer Wasserbau und Wasserwirtschaft im WWF-Auen-Institut.
    "Wie nach jeder Katastrophe hat man sich bisher nur darauf konzentriert, die entstandenen Schaeden zu beheben", erklaerte Rast. Das heisst, es wurden vor allem gebrochene Deiche repariert. Dies ist nach Ansicht des Hochwasser-Experten zwar notwendig, doch es reicht nicht aus fuer eine langfristige Vorsorge. Noetig sind zusaetzliche Ueberflutungsflaechen in den Anrainerlaendern Brandenburg und Polen, um kuenftige Risiken zu entschaerfen.
    Kritik richtete Rast an die Politik sowohl in Brandenburg als auch in Polen. Kurz nach der Flut seien vor allem Betroffene auf der polnischen Seite bereit gewesen, aus hochwassergefaehrdeten Gebieten wegzuziehen. "Entsprechende Signale aus der Politik haben jedoch gefehlt", betonte Rast. Nun sei es dazu fast zu spaet, denn viele der Bewohner haetten ihre geschaedigten Haeuser renoviert. "Indem man jedoch die bestehenden Zustaende wiederherstellt, zementiert man einen mangelhaften Hochwasserschutz", fuegte er hinzu.
    Um Hochwasserschutz erfolgreich umzusetzen, muss man die oekologischen Potentiale der Flusslandschaft einbinden, d. h. Auen wieder als natuerliche Rueckhalteraeume nutzen. . "Dies zeigt das `Integrierte Rheinprogramm´ des Landes Baden-Wuerttemberg ganz deutlich", unterstrich Rast. Dort erhalten ausgedeichte Auenstandorte wieder ihre Funktion als "Puffer" bei Hochwasser, indem sie an den Rhein angebunden werden. An der Entstehung dieses Programms war das WWF-Auen-Institut massgeblich beteiligt.
    Auch an der Oder versucht der WWF nun, ein solches Programm voranzutreiben. So gibt es gerade dort hervorragende Moeglichkeiten fuer Deichrueckverlegungen, die dem Hochwasserschutz dienen und zugleich optimale oekologische Verhaeltnisse schaffen wuerden. Um die negativen Folgen rein technischer Flussbaumassnahmen und die Chancen eines oekologischen Hochwasserschutzes zu demonstrieren, hatten Rast und seine Kollegen im Juni 45 Fachleute aus Deutschland, Polen und Tschechien eingeladen. Wie Rast erlaeuterte, habe man damit die Ebene erreicht, die solche Massnahmen auch tatsaechlich umsetzen kann.
    Momentan sieht es in Polen jedoch nicht nach einer oekologisch orientierten Loesung aus. Mit dem Ausbauprogramm "Odra 2006" plant die Regierung den Bau weiterer Staustufen. Dies koennte den Hochwasserschutz sogar verschlechtern, befuerchten die Experten vom WWF-Auen-Institut. Aehnlich schaetzt auch die Weltbank die Folgen ein. Sie will sich an der Finanzierung des Programms beteiligen, zoegert jedoch aufgrund dieser offensichtlichen Planungsmaengel.
    "Auch in Brandenburg muss mehr passieren", mahnte Rast. Wenn Polen seine Deiche so gruendlich ertuechtigt wie Deutschland, werden kuenftige Hochwasser Brandenburg staerker als zuvor treffen. Bisher hatten die Ueberschwemmungen in Polen die Folgen fuer das flussabwaerts liegende Gebiet abgeschwaecht. "Fuer dieses Problem gibt es zwei Loesungen", erlaeuterte Rast. Zum einen kann Brandenburg selbst mehr Raum schaffen, zum anderen kann es Polen unterstuetzen. Denn in Polen stehen Flaechen zur Verfuegung, doch es fehlt vor allem an Geld. "Am sinnvollsten waere es, beide Moeglichkeiten zu kombinieren", empfahl Rast.

    Fuer weitere Informationen wenden Sie sich bitte an
    Anja Rech, Pressereferentin im WWF-Auen-Institut
    Josefstr. 1, 76437 Rastatt
    Tel. 072 22/38 07-14, Fax -99
    oder Georg Rast, Tel. 072 22/38 07-22

    24/6 : Le barrage de St.Etiènne du Vigan est detruit
    24/6 : St Etienne de Vigan Dam dismanteld
    in french and english:

    Mercredi 24 juin à 17 heures, le barrage de Saint-Etienne-du-Vigan sur l’Allier supérieur a été soufflé par l’explosion des charges réparties sur l’ouvrage. C’est la première fois en France qu’un barrage EDF est démantelé pour restaurer une rivière à saumons.

     Situé dans le département de la Haute-Loire sur le Haut-Allier, le barrage de Saint-Etienne-du-Vigan stérilisait depuis un siècle une trentaine d’hectares des meilleures frayères à saumon du bassin de la Loire. Avant que cet ouvrage de 12 mètres de haut ne soit construit à la fin du XIXè siècle, les villages voisins exportaient environ 10 tonnes de saumon par an vers le sud de la France, un apport considérable pour l’économie locale. Le barrage ne produisait les dernières années que 1,5% de la production du département de la Haute-Loire.

    C’est à l’automne 1997 que la retenue a été vidée, profitant d’une crue de 80 m3/s permettant de diluer les sédiments accumulés dans la retenue et de minimiser l’impact sur les écosystèmes en aval du barrage. L’impact de cette vidange totale a été minime, en raison du bas niveau de pollution de la retenue, située très en amont, dans un environnement peu industrialisé. Le coût global du démantèlement est estimé à 14 millions de francs, comprenant notamment 7,2 millions de francs pour des mesures d’accompagnement destinées à combler le manque à gagner pour la commune de la taxe professionnelle auparavant payée par EDF et à valoriser le patrimoine saumon et le site.

     La décision de démanteler Saint-Etienne-du-Vigan a été prise dans le cadre du Plan Loire Grandeur Nature lancé par par le gouvernement le 4 janvier 1994, à la suite du débat provoqué par le réseau Loire Vivante et l’association SOS Loire Vivante sur la question de l’aménagement de la Loire. Ce programme de gestion du bassin de la Loire, qui vise à concilier la sécurité des personnes, le développement économique et la protection de l’environnement, comporte un volet de restauration des populations de saumons. Ce volet inclut la destruction d’un autre barrage sur le bassin de la Loire, la construction d’une salmoniculture sur le Haut-Allier, l’interdiction de la pêche au saumon et l’élimination d’autres obstacles à la migration du saumon.

     L’autre barrage à être démantelé est celui de Maisons-Rouges, sur la Vienne. Le processus a été retardé par l’opposition de certains élus locaux, mais le gouvernement actuel a annoncé que les travaux de démolition de cet ouvrage hydroélectrique de 5 mètres de haut, qui a détruit environ 800 hectares de frayères sur l’ensemble du bassin de la Vienne, débuteraient début septembre.

    Le but du volet restauration des populations de saumon est de faire revenir 6 000 adultes dans l’estuaire de la Loire dans 10 ans. Au XIXè siècle, environ 100 000 saumons atlantique revenaient en Loire jusqu’à leurs frayères des hauts bassins, après une migration d’environ 6 000 km depuis le Groenland dans l’océan Atlantique nord.

     En 1997, ce sont seulement 389 saumons qui ont franchi la passe à poissons de Vichy, sur l’Allier moyen, le seul affluent de la Loire où les saumons viennent encore se reproduire. Les barrages ont été la cause principale de cette chute spectaculaire dans les effectifs de saumon. Les jeunes tacons qui se dirigent vers l’océan se perdent dans les eaux calmes des retenues ou se font hacher menu par les turbines, tandis que les adultes remontant vers leurs zones de reproduction n’arrivent pas à franchir les murs des barrages.

    Le saumon atlantique a disparu de tous les grands fleuves européens : le Rhin, la Tamise, l’Elbe, et d’autres. Ceci rend le reliquat de population de saumon de l’axe Loire-Allier particulièrement précieux du point de vue génétique. En effet, le saumon de l’Allier est le seul à pouvoir parcourir de longues distances dans la rivière, et il sert de reproducteur pour les programmes de réintroduction du saumon dans les autres grands fleuves européens.

    english version:

    The Saint-Etienne-du-Vigan dam on the Upper Allier river, the main tributary of the Loire river, collapsed on June 24 at 5 P.M. It is the first time in France that a dam operated by Electricité de France (the French state-owned electricity utility) has been destroyed in an effort to restore salmon habitat. 

     Located near the sources of the Allier River, Saint-Etienne-du-Vigan sterilized 70 acres of the basin's best salmon (Salmo salar) spawning grounds. Before this 44-foot-high dam was built in the late XIXth century, the surrounding villages produced approximately 10 tons of salmon per year, which contributed heavily to the local economy. The dam produced just 35 megawatts/hour per year, a tiny fraction of the nation's electrical output. 

     In the fall, the dam reservoir was emptied when a flood of about 2,800 cubic feet per second (80 cubic meters/sec.) occurred, which washed out the accumulated silt in the reservoir and minimized damage on the ecosystem downstream. Studies found no evidence of sudden pollution downstream, due to the low level of pollution of the reservoir sediments, as the reservoir is located in very little urbanized area and suffers hardly no pollution. The global cost of the demolition is an estimated FF14 million ($2,3 million*), including FF7,2 million ($1,2 million) to replace professional taxes formerly paid by EDF. This money will go for measures to improve the village’s habitat and tourism infrastructures. 

    The decision to remove the dam was taken on January 4, 1994, when the « Plan Loire Grandeur Nature » was launched by the French government. This program, spurred by widespread opposition coordinated by the Loire Vivante network to a series of projected dams on the Loire river basin, planned several measures to save the remaining salmon population of the Loire basin, including demolition of another dam on the Loire basin, construction of a hatchery on the Upper Allier, suspension of all fishing and elimination of other obstacles to salmon migration. 

    The other dam to be dismantled is the Maisons-Rouges, on the Vienne river, another tributary of the Loire river. The process has been slowed by the opposition of local politicians but the current French government has now scheduled a timetable for taking down this 15-foot-high hydroelectric dam which destroyed the Vienne river basin's entire 1,900 acres of spawning grounds : the works will begin next September 1998. 

    The goal of the program to restore salmon population on the Loire basin is to have 6,000 adults return to the Loire estuary in 10 years. In the XIXth century, approximately 100,000 Atlantic salmon would make the annual journey to their spawning grounds in the headwaters of France’s Loire River and its tributaries. After travelling an amazing 4,000 miles from Greenland in the North Atlantic ocean, they would swim upriver to spawn in clear waters. 

     In 1997, only 389 salmon were counted on the middle Allier River, the sole tributary in the Loire basin where salmon still return to spawn. Dams were the main cause for the spectacular drop in the salmon population. Young smolts swimming downstream to the ocean get lost in the slack waters of the reservoirs or chopped up in turbines or pumps; adults swimming upstream are foiled by dam walls or indequate fish ladders. Numerous dams in the Loire basin have destroyed habitat and blocked the fish from their spawning grounds. 

     Atlantic salmon have disappeared from all large rivers on the European Atlantic coast: the Rhine, the Thames, the Elbe, and others. This makes the tiny Loire stock a precious genetic pool for reintroducing salmon in other large European rivers because it the only salmon in Europe which is able to swim upriver for such long distances (more than 600 miles).(* rate used : 1$ = 6 FF)


    Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt today signed papers with state and private officials and a coalition of conservation organizations clearing the way for the removal of the 917-foot Edwards Dam, spanning the Kennebec River in the city of Augusta, Maine.
    When it comes out within a year, the dam - which has blocked 17 miles of prime fish-spawning habitat for 160 years - will be the first hydrodam removed in the United States. It also marks the first time that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (which licenses about 2,000 other dams) refused to relicense a dam.
    "Today, with the power of our pens, we are dismantling several myths: that hydrodams provide clean pollution-free energy; that hydropower is the main source of our electricity; that dams should last as long as the pyramids; and that making them friendlier for fisheries is expensive and time consuming," Secretary Babbitt said.
    "There are 75,000 large dams in this country, most built a long, long time ago," he said. "Many are useful but some are obsolete, expensive and unsafe. They were built with no consideration of the environmental costs. We must now examine those costs and act accordingly."
    "This is not a call to remove all, most, or even many dams," he continued. "But this is a challenge to dam owners and operators to defend themselves - to demonstrate by hard facts, not by sentiment or myth, that the continued operation of a dam is in the public interest, economically and environmentally.
    Often the outcome will mean more environmentally friendly operating regimes, perhaps achieved through the installation of fish passages or other technological fixes. In some cases, like the one we are here to highlight today, it will mean actual removal."
    The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has consistently advocated for removal of Edwards Dam. For more than 160 years, the dam has prevented free passage of Atlantic salmon, American shad, river herring, striped bass, shortnose sturgeon (listed as endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act), Atlantic sturgeon, rainbow smelt and American eel.
    "As many as 4 million river herring, 500,000 shad, and 3,000 salmon may someday soon find suitable habitat on the Kennebec River above Augusta," Babbitt predicted. "The environmental benefits of dismantling this dam far outweigh any future usefulness. Its removal is a conservation milestone and was achieved through a remarkable partnership that can become a model for the nation."
    Under the Lower Kennebec River Comprehensive Hydropower Settlement Accord, Edwards Manufacturing and the City of Augusta will relinquish their hydropower license and ownership of Edwards Dam to the State of Maine by Jan. 1, 1999. The State in turn will dismantle the dam in 1999 and return the property to the city.
    The accord also embodies a unique partnership among the City of Augusta, State of Maine, Department of the Interior and other federal agencies, private conservation organizations, upstream dam owners, and Bath Iron Works. This diverse group will work together to ensure funding for dam removal and associated restoration work. Trust funds established under the agreement will be used to help restore and manage Atlantic salmon, American shad, river herring, striped bass, and other migratory fish in the Kennebec River during the next 15 years.
    Edwards Dam was built in 1837 to provide hydro mechanical power to Augusta's textile industry. It has had the capability of producing hydroelectric power since 1913 and currently generates 3.5 megawatts, a minute percentage of Maine's energy supply.
    The dam is the first along the Kennebec River, located approximately 40 miles from river's mouth on the Atlantic. It measures 917 feet long and 25 feet high and creates a reservoir covering more than one thousand acres. The next dam on the river is located 17 miles upstream from Augusta.  

    12/5/98: People's checkpoints effectively stop machine-materials-human flow to dam site : people prepare to relaunch struggle

    Since 8 May 1998, the people of the Maheshwar affected area have stepped up their struggle by setting up "janata ka naka" (people's checkpoints) on the routes leading to the dam site. These checkpoints, where between 30-50 men and women are maintaining continuous vigil, have successfully reduced to a trickle the flow of machinery, materials and labour to the dam site, and the work on the dam site too has slowed down. The State has responded, as expected, by bringing in more police to the area.
    Four such check points had been set up on the 8th of May, which have been increased to 7 from today. The poeple are in a fighting mood, and are preparing to re-launch their struggle in full force. The state has meanwhile, started bringing in a large number of police, who are coming in everyday. The numbers are to be yet estimated.
    Meanwhile, the Chief Minster of MP, Shri Digvijay Singh cancelled his scheduled visit to the project area and his meetings with the affected people in what can be seen as a bowing down to the pressures of the strong lobby of the project promoters, S.Kumars. He gave no explanation for the cancellation. Instead, he expressed his inability to come, and suggested that the people come to Indore city, about 3 hrs away to meet him. The people politely but firmly refused this, saying it is important for him to come to the site and see the situation for himself.
    It may be noted that the NBA was going to present the "International Declaration of Support to the Maheshwar Struggle" to the CM on his visit to the site. This declaration, endorsed by 186 environment, human rights, women's and labour organizations from India and 35 other countries, shows the enormous support to the struggle from all over the world.
    In an important statement, the Vice President of Oregon, US -based PacifiCorp Development Company, announced that his company "do not intend to participate further in the [Maheshwar] project". Quinn continues that if PacifiCorp were to reevaluate the project in the future, "it would only be under the condition that the needs of the mass of affected people be properly addressed and consensus regarding how the Project proceeds is reached by all stakeholders, including Narmada Bachao Andolan."
    PacifiCorp had been expected to hold or underwrite nearly half the shares in the project company through PacGen, a subsidiary. Recently, PacifiCorp sold off PacGen, but it has retained all overseas interests of PacGen including Maheshwar. S.Kumars has been all the while conveying - indirectly as also directly through their website - that PacGen is still involved.
    It may be recollected that the occupation of the dam site at Maheshwar was suspended from 24 April by the people after two consecutive days of powerful struggle, and severe repression. This was done in order that the issue which caught the national and international attention due to the severe state repression, could be fully explained to the people outside the valley, before the struggle is continued. The people are now ready and eager to re-launch the struggle, after the enormous show of national and international support.

     Shripad Dharmadhikary
    Narmada Bachao Andolan
    Ph.& Fax : +91-265-38 22 32 Email :

    27/4/98: Donana National Park Out of Jeopardy. Clean-Up Has Begun

    SOURCE: Boliden Limited
    TORONTO, April 27 /CNW-PRN/
    - Boliden Limited has started work to remove or remediate materials discharged through the ruptured tailings-dam dyke at its Los Frailes mine 45 kilometres west of Seville, Spain. Independent consultants as well as engineers from Boliden's operations in Sweden are on site to help deal with the situation. Mining operations have been temporarily stopped at Los Frailes and the company has declared force majeure with respect to its obligations to its customers and suppliers. The 50-metre breach in the dyke has been closed, stopping the outflow into the Rio Agrio. Approximately 2,000 hectares of land were flooded on April 25 when the dyke gave way. Limited property damage occurred along the Rio Agrio and the Rio Guadiamar into which it flows. No personal injuries have been reported. As a result of prompt action by Spanish environmental authorities, the discharge was quickly diverted away from the Donana National Park. The tailings dam was inspected by independent consultants and governmental authorities in 1996 and 1997 and has been inspected regularly since that time. No signs of instability were detected prior to the failure.

    3/5/98: FOCUS-Spain launches toxic spill clean-up

    (Adds Environment Minister quote, details) By Richard Bastin
    SEVILLE, Spain, May 3 (Reuters)
    - Workers armed with shovels and bulldozers launched a massive clean-up on Sunday in the aftermath of a toxic waste spill that has created one of Spain's worst ecological disasters.
    Crews began hauling away the first truckloads of seven million tons of acidic mud left on the banks of the Guadiamar River after a mine reservoir ruptured on April 25, sending a torrent of toxic material flowing downstream.
    Environment Minister Isabel Tocino, who has called the spill ``an ecological catastrophe of historic proportions,'' sounded a note of optimism as the recovery effort got under way near the riverside town of Sanlucar La Mayor.
    ``This is a hopeful morning for the Spanish people,'' she said.
    The owner of the mine, Canadian-Swedish conglomerate Boliden Ltd (BOL.TO - news), has agreed to pay for the clean-up and to guarantee farmers reimbursement for millions of dollars' worth of crops poisoned by the toxic flow.
    The company has provided 500 workers from its Los Frailes mine, idle since the toxic spill on April 25, to help remove the mud and deposit it in an abandoned section of the open-pit mine site at Aznalcollar, west of Seville.
    But some environmentalists have called the recovery plan ill conceived and question whether Boliden can manage such a complex operation.
    Experts say the longer the sludge remains in the rivers and marshes, the heavier the toll will be on wildlife in the area.
    Volunteers in protective clothing have already cleared away up to 20 tonnes of dead fish from contaminated waters near Donana National Park, Europe's biggest nature reserve. Birds have begun turning up dead along the riverbanks, and the rotting carcasses of a sheep and a deer, possibly poisoned from drinking poisoned waters, have been found in marshlands on the outskirts of Donana.
    The people of one of Spain's poorest regions have also felt the brunt of the disaster. Some 46,000 residents have been been affected, many of them small farmers who saw their crops destroyed and land contaminated by the toxic flow.
    ``We want to know what is going to be done about our land,'' said Juan Pedro Martinez, a 45-year-old farmer.
    Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar, in his first public comments on the spill, promised the disaster victims would not be forgotten.
    Recovery efforts will concentrate on a 40-km (25-mile) stretch of the Guadiamar, the path of destruction cut by the tide of toxic waste before it was diverted away from Donana by a series of makeshift dykes.
    Authorities said they would try to finish the job before the rainy season in October, when they fear rising waters could cause the contamination to spread further.
    But scientists say it could take decades for the ecosystem to recover from the toxic residue of lead, zinc and silver mining that poured from the Aznalcollar reservoir.
    ``Our position is that we are accepting responsibility and we are going to do the clean-up,'' Boliden spokesman Jim Borland told Reuters from the company's headquarters in Toronto. He said Boliden had pledged to assume the full costs of the operation, including reimbursement of the regional government for any money it allocates to cover the losses of local farmers.
    Spanish officials say the company has also agreed to buy up the entire poisoned harvest and dispose of it.
    Spain's agriculture ministry has counted 3,600 hectares (9,000 acres) of cropland destroyed, with losses totalling around $10 million. A farmers' association estimated total costs of nearly $120 million to decontaminate the poisoned land.
    Environmentalists accuse the government of mismanaging the crisis, and have called for the army to take charge of the clean-up operation. But government officials have ruled that out. Up to 100 members of environmental group the Andalusian Pacifist Ecologist Confederation earlier staged a demonstration in Sanlucar de Barrameda to demand that the mud deposits be stopped from reaching the Guadalquivir river and be taken away in cistern trucks.
    The group has even threatened to lodge a formal complaint against the government if more toxic mud is taken to an old mine in the area, where some has already been stored. ``The old mine is unsafe, given that it is not waterproof, the rocks are cracked and it is above a watertable,'' the group said in a statement.

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    as even threatened to lodge a formal complaint against the government if more toxic mud is taken to an old mine in the area, where some has already been stored. ``The old mine is unsafe, given that it is not waterproof, the rocks are cracked and it is above a watertable,'' the group said in a statement.

    back to the Homepage
    These pages and their content are © Copyright of European Rivers Network.
    For more information, remarks or propositions, send us a message !.