Laos Moves Forward With Massive Mekong River Dam

Prince Roy/CC BY 2.0
The section of the Mekong where the dam will be built, with people panning for gold.

A couple years ago we covered the proposed Xayaburi dam on the Mekong River in Laos, to be located north of the capital Vientiane —specifically how the mega dam could disrupt the Mekong ecosystem, and how smaller dams on tributaries of the river could produce more power with lower environmental impact. Well, as 2012 moves into its final months, Laos is going ahead with the Xayaburi dam, slightly reworked, but still drawing criticism.

BBC News reports that construction on the $3.5 billion dam will be formally inaugurated this coming Wednesday and is expected to continue on through 2019. Thai money is bankrolling the project, with most of the electricity expected to be produced by the project to be sent to Thailand.

Modifications to the dam, to address fish migration and potential problems with sedimentation, have been made, but apparently concerns about the impact on Cambodia and Vietnam, both downriver from the problem, remain a concern.

Tags: Hydropower | Rivers