[Statement] South Korean businesses and government cannot avoid responsibility for the accident in Laos Xe Pian-Xe Namnoy Hydroelectric power dam
- Int. Solidarity
- 2018.07.25 (08:43:14)
Finding the reasons for the Laos Xe Pian-Xe Namnoy hydraulic dam accident and helping to rectify the damages.
Tragedy occurred under a South Korean ODA project. South Korean businesses and government cannot avoid responsibility.
According to local reports, on July 23 at around 8 pm (local time), an auxiliary structure of the Xe Pian-Xe Namnoy hydroelectric power dam, situated in the South-East province of Attapeu, collapsed. The incident inundated 6 villages, left scores missing and caused more than six thousand people to be displaced. We pray for those who were lost and hope that those who went missing can return safely to their families. We deeply sympathize with the citizens of Laos who have lost so much in this tragic accident.
The Xe Pian-Xe Namnoy dam was a Public Private Partnership that had received 95.5 billion won from the Economic Development Cooperation Fund of the Export-Import Bank of Korea (EDCF), the primary institution that implements credit assistance. SK Engineering and Construction (SK E&C), and Korea Western Power (KOWEPO) were participants in the project. Construction had been completed in April 2017, 4 months ahead of schedule, and the dam was expected to commence its commercial operation in February 2019.
However, international environmental groups have long been opposed to construction of the Xe Pian-Xe Namnoy dam. Concerns have been raised over environmental damage, the violation of human rights of local residents who could be forcibly removed from the area, and the lack of transparency in a socio-environmental examination of the project. During a parliamentary inspection by the Ministry of Strategy and Finance, it was pointed out that the project did not follow the EDCF’s safeguard policy which aims to reduce as much as possible any negative effects caused by a large-scale development project.
The Laos Xe Pian-Xe Namnoy dam construction had been supported by South Korean Official Development Assistance (ODA). The private company, SK E&C, as well as the Korean government share responsibility for this tragedy. The government must help deal with the aftermath and must investigate the reasons for this unprecedented and tragic accident. SK E&C has been asserting that the cause of the accident was the ‘overflow’ of water in the supporting dam due to heavy rain, but the KOWEPO explains that it was the fault of the collapse of the supporting dam. This confusion is the reason why a proper and clear investigation of the cause of the accident is needed. Furthermore, they need to clarify if the location of the infrastructure was correctly selected, if there were any problems with the design or construction of the dam, if they had been effectively implementing the socio-environmental evaluation, and if they had followed the safeguard.
In addition, it is of utmost importance to evaluate the limits and potential issues related to private-government cooperation projects and to provide solutions. Basic guidelines for safety must be compulsory in order to protect the rights of local residents and avoid harm to the environment, the society and human rights. This is the least of the responsibilities required in order to prevent such a tragic accident happening again. We sincerely hope that the aftermath of the incident can be dealt with safely and that those still missing can be returned to their families.
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번역: 황보경 자원활동가
감수: 참여연대 국제연대위원회