Oh Dam Jan29

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Robert Slattery

is a writer living in Western North Carolina. He enjoys music and all sorts of other things.

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Oh Dam

Environment – Brazil’s Belo Monte damn will be the world’s third largest hydroelectric dam, however it will come with a rather significant price. It threatens to displace 24,000 people along South America’s Xingu River. It also brings to question if renewable energy is worth the human and environmental cost to begin it.

Indigenous and environmental groups have protested the dam in hopes of protecting the relatively unaltered land and river. In addition to protests, judicial injunctions and economic concerns resulted in a lengthy postponement (the idea for a dam there has been around since the 70′s) but only recently these injunctions were lifted.

Now that they have the go, the building of the dam is moving quickly. The construction is employing an amazing 5,000 people working day and night six days a week. By the end of the dam’s construction, the site is expected to employ 20,000 people. The number is so high that a miniature city is being built near the site to house the hefty workforce. That said, the 24,000 displaced locals are being paid off to leave their homes to allow for the dam.

Beyond the displacement of the people, claims about wastewater runoff and rising crime associated with migrant workers relocated for the construction have begun to surface regularly. The whole ordeal offers what may be a significant step forward environmentally for the region, but it comes with very real start up costs.

All in the name of progress, maybe.

Read more at Al Jazeera.