BNDES Will Be Notified About Its Co-Responsibility for Impacts of the Belo Monte Dam

An extrajudicial notice will be delivered to the bank's headquarters in Rio de Janeiro at 11 am this Wednesday.

The Brazilian Development Bank (BNDES), which has already set out to become the largest funder of the Belo Monte hydroelectric dam on the Xingu River in Altamira (PA), will be notified of it's co-responsibility for the impacts of the project taking effect once the bank's loan is granted.

On Wednesday March 24th social movements from Altamira, with the support of other Brazilian organizations, will deliver an extrajudicial notice to BNDES warning the bank about the weakness of the environmental license that was issued by the Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (IBAMA). According to judicial experts, the license offers no guarantee that the project is feasible from a socio-environmental perspective since the agency's technical evaluation states, "there is not sufficient evidence supporting the environmental feasibility of the venture", a statement that was disregarded at the time of Belo Monte's licensing. Under these terms, the bank's funding would be considered illegal and in accordance with Brazilian law, BNDES would be made liable for unanticipated environmental damages should the construction of the dam move forward.

The notice states, should the harmful events resulting from the dam which have been confirmed by IBAMA experts occur, BNDES is liable to be charged for costs, whatever the value, associated with impacts on the flora, fauna and people living in the region. This even includes costs considered impossible to appraise. 

The notice also points out that BNDES has the duty to consider all possible variables involved in the project when managing public funds. The bank is obliged to "create a technical and financial assessment of the investment, project or business plan, including an evaluation of the social and economic implications" to approve all financial transactions under its own statute. 

The Impacts of Belo Monte

The notice emphasizes the haste with which IBAMA granted the pre-licensing agreement for Belo Monte, ignoring the technical team's observations in the HTA 06/2010 report which did not support proposed solutions for some of the socio-environmental impacts that will effect the region.

One of the most important impacts not considered under the licensing agreement was in respect to water quality. At IBAMA's request, a study by experts at the University of Brasília (UnB) was delivered a few days before the license was issued. Results from the study confirmed that the model used in the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) was misleading and insufficient for making predictions on future water quality in the region. It also stated, contrary to what was recorded in the study sponsored by Eletrobrás, that there is a high probability water along 144 km of the Xingu River will become "rotten" (eutrophic) rating the water quality below the minimum requirements of the CONAMA Resolution 357 which should prevent the issuing of the license.

Another important point concerns the dam's impact on the Volta Grande (Big Bend) region of the Xingu. It is a stretch of more than 100 km of water along the river and is home to hundreds of families who will live in "eternal drought" if Belo Monte is built given that most of water is to be diverted to the dam's canals. The problem is that the pre-licensing agreement opposes the IBAMA technical team's decision, who confirmed that the amount of water Eletrobrás proposes to release into the Volta Grande stretch (which was also accepted by the head of IBAMA) is an insufficient amount of water to maintain the livelihood of these people. In making such profound changes to the natural water cycle the dam would be responsible for stopping activities such as fishing, which are inextricably linked to peoples' survival.

Other funders are to be notified in addition to BNDES.


On Wednesday, March 24th at 11 am, members of social movements and NGOs, will join the representatives of indigenous and riverine communities of Altamira to host a demonstration outside the headquarters of BNDES, in order to monitor and support the delivery of the notice to bank.

Location: Rua República do Chile, 100, downtown Rio de Janeiro

More Information:
Renata Pinheiro, Movimento Xingu Vivo para Sempre – (21) 8782-3443
Raul do Valle, Instituto Socioambiental (ISA) - (61) 8155-7492
João Roberto Lopes, Plataforma BNDES – (21) 8648-1511
Roland Widmer – Programa Ecofinanças/Amigos da Terra Amazônia Brasileira - (11) 7457-7035

Translated by: Katherine Needles

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