Belo Monte Dam must comply with conditions before continuing operations

Altamira, Brazil

The city of Altamira has been directly affected by the hydroelectric project. | Credit: Amazon Watch-Maíra Irigaray.

April 10, 2017

Last week a federal court in Brazil suspended the operating license of the Belo Monte Dam. Prosecutors said the dam's operating company, Norte Energía, failed to complete basic sanitation works in the city of Altamira, which has been directly affected by the hydroelectric project. 

The decision comes in response to a legal appeal filed by the Federal Public Ministry. The sanitation work was a condition for the dam's licensing, authorized by the Brazilian Institute of Environmental Resources (IBAMA), and should have been completed before the reservoir was filled; it was not. 

"This is the first time that a federal court has suspended one of Belo Monte's suspensão de segurança, a legal tool that guarantees the dam's operation even though it hasn't completed the conditions required under its operating license. In practice, the decision means that the dam must immediately halt all operations, although the completion of pending work may continue," explained AIDA attorney Marcella Ribeiro. 

"Beyond being an issue of sanitation, this judgment represents an important step forward in the fight to force the operating company to adequately comply with the conditions necessary for the dam's operation, which favor affected communities." 

"We hope the Brazilian justice system continues to guarantee the protection of the rights of all those affected by  the Belo Monte Dam.”