Brazil agency fines 3,150-MW Santo Antonio builder for fish kill

Brazil’s environmental agency has fined the builder of the 3,150-MW Santo Antonio hydroelectric project a total of 7.7 million reais (US$3.3 million) for a fish kill that occurred during construction of cofferdams on the Madeira River.

The Rondonia State unit of Brazil’s Instituto Brasileiro de Meio Ambiente (Ibama) assessed the penalty based on an estimated 11 tons of dead fish, discovered by Ibama officials December 12, two days after they had warned the development consortium, Madeira Energia S.A., that procedures would have to be implemented during cofferdam work to ensure fish survival.

Brazil law values the fish at 500 reais (US$215) per kilo, resulting in a base value of the fish kill at 5.5 million reais (US$2.36 million), plus a 40 percent increase in fine due to aggravating factors, for the total 7.7 million reais. Ibama said the consortium also must repair actual damages to the environment.

The agency said Madeira Energia S.A. has a right to legal defense and appeal of the fine.

The Madeira Energia S.A. consortium includes Furnas Centrais Eletricas S/A, Odebrecht Investimentos em Infra-estrutura Ltda., Construtora Norberto Odebrecht S.A., Andrade Gutierrez Participacoes S/A, Cemig Geracao e Transmissao S/A, and Fundo de Investimentos e Participacoes Amazonia Energia (formed by banks Banif and Santander).

In December, Brazil’s national development bank, Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Economico e Social, approved 6.1 billion reais (US$2.5 billion) in financing for construction of the project. (HNN 12/30/08)

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