The company preparing to build the Pak Beng hydropower project is standing ready to respond to comments from Mekong River Commission countries and development partners, a company official said.
“We have designed Pak Beng to be a model hydropower project meeting the highest technical standards with minimal environmental impact,” said Mr Deng Bo, General Manager of Vientiane-based Datang (Lao) Pak Beng Hydropower Co., Ltd.
“We understand the neighbour countries’ interest in reviewing the design and we will work closely with the Lao government to address all concerns,” he said.
Mr Deng welcomed an inspection team from the Lao Ministry of Energy and Mines and provincial energy officials at the dam site, about 7 km upstream from the new Pak Beng Mekong bridge that links Oudomxai and Xayaboury provinces.
According to the Ministry of Energy and Mines, the government has submitted a formal request to have the Mekong River Commission (MRC) review the Technical Feasibility study for the run-of- river dam, the third to be built on the Mekong River in Laos. The comprehensive study outlines all of the technical, economic, environmental and social aspects of construction and operation.
“The Lao Government has now submitted three projects under the Prior Consultation process mandated by the 1995 Mekong Agreement,” said Deputy Minister of Energy and Mines Mr Viraphonh Viravong, who inspected the Pak Beng site last week.
“The designs for both the Xayaburi and Don Sahong projects were technically perfect; however in the spirit of cooperation, and in answering MRC members’ concerns, we agreed to make costly and in some cases unnecessary modifications.”
“Over the next six months, we will learn what other experts think about Pak Beng and we will take their concerns into consideration when finalising our plans.”
Pak Beng is roughly 250 km upstream of the Xayaburi dam, and as such, it will have very little impact downstream, he said.
Pak Beng officials said they hoped to begin the first phase late next year with construction of a navigation lock and spillway on the Xayaboury Province side of the river. The second phase would begin two years later, on the opposite side, with work on the powerhouse and a fish passage for upstream migration. The company also plans to build a fish breeding station.
The Pak Beng project would create a reservoir 96 km long. Development of the project on a rocky stretch of the Mekong would greatly improve river transport, which could lead to increased tourism, the company said.
In preparation for the start of construction, the company is building roads that can also aid tourism and economic growth in the region.
Source: Vientiane Times