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UPDATE - Brazil environmental agency clears 3,300-MW Jirau

Brazil’s environmental agency granted a license June 3, 2009, to the 3,300-MW Jirau hydroelectric project, allowing stalled work to resume at the construction site on the Madeira River.

President Roberto Messias Franco of the federal environmental agency, Instituto Brasileiro do Meio Ambiente (Ibama), signed a license for Jirau containing 54 conditions, the agency said.

“The long process of discussion led to a significant improvement of the project in the original proposal,” Franco said.

The official said Ibama would continue strict monitoring of restrictions on the project. The license covers social issues in the areas of safety, health, education, and infrastructure in the city of Porto Velho and Rondonia State.

Construction was suspended at the project May 20 due to expiration of a license that had permitted preliminary construction work. (HydroWorld 5/30/09)

The federal prosecution service and the state prosecution service of Rondonia previously had filed with Ibama, recommending the agency suspend Jirau’s installation license. (HydroWorld 5/8/09) They sought to prevent development consortium Consorcio Energia Sustentavel do Brasil (ESBR) from building Jirau. The lawyers argued that ESBR changed the location of the construction of two cofferdams and had deforested areas without authorization from Ibama.

ESBR reported a halt to construction when its partial installation license expired May 18. An ESBR spokesman said 98 percent of the permissible work had been completed under the partial license, which allowed initial construction including cofferdams needed to divert the river for powerhouse construction.

In March, Rondonia’s environmental agency had suspended its construction authorization for Jirau, declaring the relocation of the proposed project would flood an environmental conservation area.

Brazil’s national water agency, Agencia Nacional de Aguas (ANA), gave approval April 29 to construction of the project. ANA said its directors examined a controversial change in project location, nine kilometers downstream from the original site. The agency declared the change had no effect on the multiple uses of the Madeira such as electricity generation, navigation, irrigation, and water supply.

To ensure multiple uses of the river, ANA said it imposed conditions on ESBR, which includes Suez Energy South America Participacoes Ltda.; Eletrosul Centrais Eletricas S/A; Companhia Hidro Eletrica do Sao Francisco (CHESF); and Camargo Correa Investimentos em Infra-Estrutura S/A.

Andritz Hydro announced in May it received an order to supply eight turbine-generators for Jirau. (HydroWorld 5/26/09)


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