Brazil judge allows dam construction to continue

AP News
Posted: Dec 17, 2011 1:46 PM
Brazil judge allows dam construction to continue

A Brazilian judge has revoked a decision that had halted some work on a massive hydroelectric dam in the Amazon jungle.

Federal judge Carlos Eduardo Martins halted construction on the $11-billion, 11,000-megawatt Belo Monte Dam in September, saying it would harm fishing on the Xingu River, which feeds the Amazon.

But on Friday, he ruled that construction could proceed because the Norte Energia consortium that is building the dam showed that the flow of the river would not be altered in a way that would harm the habitat of fish.

The judge's ruling has been posted on the court's website.

When completed, the dam would be the world's third largest behind China's Three Gorges dam and the Itaipu, which straddles the border of Brazil and Paraguay.

The government has said it will be a source of clean, renewable energy, and that it will help fuel the country's economy.

But environmentalists and indigenous groups say the dam would devastate wildlife and the livelihoods of 40,000 people who live in the area to be flooded.

Celebrities including British rock star Sting, film director James Cameron and actress Sigourney Weaver have joined activists in lobbying against the dam.

When Cameron participated in protests against the project in Brazil last year, he compared the anti-dam struggle by indigenous people to the plot of his film "Avatar," which depicts a natives of a planet fighting to protect their homeland from plans to extract its resources.