Belo Monte Experts Panel Report

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The true costs of the Belo Monte Hydroelectric Project, planned for the Xingu River in the Brazilian Amazon, have been revealed in an independent review by a panel of 40 specialists. The panel found that the dam would have serious consequences for the region, its inhabitants, and ecosystems of the Amazon rainforest. The panel – comprised of scientists from major Brazilian research institutions – reviewed the project's environmental impact assessment and delivered a 230-page report to Ibama, the Brazilian government's environmental agency, on October 1st, 2009.

One of the most alarming impacts identified by the specialists is that Belo Monte Dam would require diverting more than 80% of the flow of the Xingu, with impacts to fish, forests and navigation along a 100-km stretch of the river inhabited by indigenous communities. Impacts to fisheries would be severe, with the project causing the death of millions of fish along the river's Big Bend. The dam would cause the loss of biodiversity along the Xingu including the possibility of species extinction such as the zebra pleco and sheep pacu fish. The experts also found that the number of people who would be directly affected by the dam is likely far greater than the 19,000 indicated in official studies. More than 40,000 people could be affected.

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