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ALTO MAIPO Hydroelectric Project (PHAM), Chile


Description:

"ALTO MAIPO Hydroelectric Project" (PHAM) of AES GENER and Luksic group is intended to channel the water of the main river that supplies water to the Capital city of Chile, Santiago. The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) signed a $195 million loan agreement with Alto Maipo Spa, owned by AES Gener (60 percent) and Antofagasta Minerals (40 percent), as part of a financing package of more than $1.2 billion for the Alto Maipo Hydroelectric Project. The project is cofinanced by the International Finance Corporation, the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation and six commercial banks. The total project cost will be roughly $2 billion, 60 percent in the form of debt and the remaining 40 percent in equity.

In Santiago there are only two main rivers; one of them, the Mapocho river, is fed in an 80% from Maipo river waters.

The projects try to channel the water of the main tributary streams of the Maipo into a tunnel of 70km long, leaving a very minimal ecological volume of flow, inadequate for life.

The associated infrastructure involves (among others): 2 run-of-the-river centrals; 70 km of an abduction tunnel of 6-8 mt. in diameter; 4 water intakes; several siphons; one electrical substation; power transmission lines; charging cameras; 14 marine stockpile sites; use of trains, Tolva lorries, TBM machines, etc., etc.

In its 5-year construction period, this project is going to bring a lot of dangerous impacts: threatens the safe supply of drinking water to 7M people in Santiago; endangers irrigation waters for agriculture; accelerates the melting of glaciers and recharging of aquifers desertifying 100.000 ha of the basin and its area of direct influence; it will affect local economy based on tourism around the river, natural monuments, flora and fauna, environmental services like provision, climate regulation, habitat, etc. in the most democratic green lung of the capital city. The impacts are irreversible and long lasting.

The benefits for locals are few and the typical ones: no more than some jobs for unskilled workers.

The installed project capacity is 530 MW but the actual power generation capacity is 160 MW. This energy will go integrally to Minera Los Pelambres (Luksic group) in the north of Chile.

Basic Data

Name of conflict:ALTO MAIPO Hydroelectric Project (PHAM), Chile
Country:Chile
State or province:Provincia Cordillera, Región Metropolitana
(municipality or city/town)Cajon del Maipo (High Maipo River Watershed), Comuna de San José de Maipo, Santiago.
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)

Source of Conflict

Type of conflict: 1st level:Water Management
Type of conflict: 2nd level :Water access rights and entitlements
Dams and water distribution conflicts
Transport infrastructure networks (roads, railways, hydroways, canals and pipelines)
Building materials extraction (quarries, sand, gravel)
Specific commodities:Electricity
Land
Water

Project Details and Actors

Project details:

The associated infrastructure involves (among others): 2 run-of-the-river centrals; 70 km of an abduction tunnel of 6-8 mt. in diameter; 4 water intakes; several siphons; one electrical substation; power transmission lines; charging cameras; 14 marine stockpile sites; use of trains, Tolva lorries, TBM machines, etc., etc. The installed project capacity is 530 MW but the actual power generation capacity is 160 MW. This energy will go integrally to Minera Los Pelambres (Luksic group) in the north of Chile.

Level of Investment:900,000,000
Type of populationSemi-urban
Affected Population:7,000,000
Start of the conflict:06/05/2007
Company names or state enterprises:ANTOFAGASTA MINERALS (Grupo Luksic) from Chile
International and Finance InstitutionsOverseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) from United States of America
Inter-American Development Bank (IADB)
Corporación financiera Internacional (CFI)
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Coordinadora Ciudadana Ríos del Maipo, Ecosistemas, Observatorio Latinoamericano de Conflictos Ambientales (OLCA) www.olca.cl, Greenpeace

Conflict and Mobilization

IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Local ejos
Neighbours/citizens/communities
Social movements
Trade unions
Women
Recreational users
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Appeals/recourse to economic valuation of the environment
Development of a network/collective action
Arguments for the rights of mother nature
Artistic and creative actions (eg guerilla theatre, murals)
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Boycotts of official procedures/non-participation in official processes
Media based activism/alternative media
Shareholder/financial activism.
Community-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Objections to the EIA
Street protest/marches
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Occupation of buildings/public spaces
Strikes
Official complaint letters and petitions

Impacts of the project

Environmental ImpactsVisible: Fires, Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Other Environmental impacts
Potential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Desertification/Drought, Food insecurity (crop damage), Global warming, Soil contamination, Soil erosion, Waste overflow, Oil spills, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Other Environmental impactsGlacier melting acceleration; affectation to priority sites for biodiversity conservation and natural monuments.
Health ImpactsPotential: Accidents, Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..), Health problems related to alcoholism, prostitution, Deaths, Other Health impacts
Other Health impactsincreased heat stress
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Militarization and increased police presence, Violations of human rights
Potential: Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..), Specific impacts on women, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Other socio-economic impacts, displacement, Increase in violence and crime, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood
Other socio-economic impactsloss of local economy based on tourism due to degradation of landscape and of the river.

Outcome

Project StatusUnder construction
Conflict outcome / response:Land demarcation
Court decision (undecided)
Repression
Withdrawal of company/investment
In 2011, a commission of inquiry of the Chamber of Deputies determined that the project was approved with irregularities, but nothing happened and now is starting to be built
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:In 2011, a commission of inquiry of the Chamber of Deputies determined that the project was approved with irregularities, but nothing happened and now is starting to be built. The use of water for energy for mining projects is above (more important) than the human and animal right to water. Local communities and territory are impacted and the benefits fly to other parts of the country.

Sources and Materials

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

“Dams and Markets: Rivers and Electric Power in Chile”, Natural Resources Journal VOL 49 Summer-Fall 2009“, por Carl J. Bauer, profesor asociado de la Escuela de Geografía y Desarrollo de la Universidad de Arizona, Tucson, Arizona (see attachment)

“Searching for a Miracle – ‘Net Energy’ Limits & the Fate of Industrial Society” por Richard Heinberg, International Forum on Globalization and the Post Carbon Institute, False Solutions Series # 4, September 2009
http://www.postcarbon.org/new-site-files/Reports/Searching_for_a_Miracle_web10nov09.pdf

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

Funpage No AltoMaipo
https://www.facebook.com/NoAlProyectoAltoMaipo

Twitter No AltoMaipo
@NoAltoMaipo

Mobilization news
http://www.chilevision.cl/noticias/noticias/nacional/movimientos-sociales-anuncian-la-marcha-de-todas-las-marchas-al-inicio-del-nuevo-gobierno/2014-03-09/155234.html

Mobilization news
http://intlanacion.altavoz.net/noticias/pais/nacional/marcha-de-todas-las-marchas-recibira-al-nuevo-gobierno/2014-03-09/154700.html

Official web page of the conflict
http://www.riosdelmaipo.cl/

IADB website
http://www.iadb.org/en/projects/project-description-title,1303.html?id=CH-L1067

IPS
http://www.ipsnews.net/2008/12/environment-chile-widespread-opposition-to-power-plants/

El Ciudadano "Alto Maipo: Si el río suena… represas trae"
http://www.elciudadano.cl/2012/02/09/48041/alto-maipo-si-el-rio-suena-es-porque-represas-trae/

Radio UChile
http://radio.uchile.cl/2013/08/04/opositores-a-alto-maipo-protestan-ante-nuevas-condiciones-del-proyecto

El Desconcierto, "El agua de Santiago en Riesgo… AltoMaipo y el fin del Cajón"

Por Tomás González, Miembro de la Coordinadora Ciudadana Ríos del Maipo
http://eldesconcierto.cl/el-agua-de-santiago-en-riesgo-altomaipo-y-el-fin-del-cajon/

Radio UChile, "Las Aguas del Maipo son un tesoro", por Juan Pablo Orrego
http://radio.uchile.cl/2012/01/04/las-aguas-del-maipo-son-un-tesoro

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Official video: Voces por los ríos libres.NO Alto Maipo
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N3iZIVRPg3c

Other documents

Map of the project Credits: http://www.riosdelmaipo.cl/el-proyecto-alto-maipo/
https://file.ejatlas.org/docs/proyecto_alto_maipo.jpg

“Dams and Markets: Rivers and Electric Power in Chile”
https://file.ejatlas.org/docs/Dams_and_Markets_C.Bauer_2009.PDF

Meta information

Last update03/05/2014

Images

 

Map of the project

Credits: http://www.riosdelmaipo.cl/el-proyecto-alto-maipo/