Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Chile gives go-ahead to controversial hydroelectric project

A Chilean environmental commission gave the green light to go ahead with a controversial dam project.

The multibillion-dollar HidroAysen plan would allow for the construction of a series of hydroelectric dams in the southern part of the country. “We must search for alternate sources of energy,” said President Sebastián Piñera who added that his administration will not “hide its head like an ostrich and delay problems.”

Yet residents of the affected Patagonia region are opposed to the project that would flood approximately 15,000 acres of land. They’ve also been joined by environmental activists who contend that there are more viable options such as small-scale hydroelectric projects and more efficiently running the existing Chilean energy system.

Supporters of HidroAysen have attempted to sway public opinion in their favor. One pro-project ad, for example depicts the lights in a hospital emergency room flickering on and off while a deliveryman rings the doorbell of a residence. According to The Guardian, however, an Ipsos poll showed that “61% of Chileans opposed the dams”.

Some detractors to the plan have engaged in a series of protests such as a distributed denial-of-service attack (DDoS attack) that took the HidroAysen website offline on Wednesday. Several tense-filled demonstrations took place throughout Chile including the capital city of Santiago as seen in the following video:

The HidroAysen plan would also include an 1180-mile transmission line to connect the dams to “feed the central grid that supplies Santiago and surrounding cities as well as copper mines owned by Codelco and Anglo American Plc.” This part of the plan has yet to be approved and the project could be stopped dead in its tracks if an environmental assessment panel does not approve it later this year.

Video Source - YouTube
Online Sources- Bloomberg, La Tercera, La Nacion, The Guardian, BBC News

No comments: