Washington, D.C – A prominent environmentalist has warned that hydropower-reliant countries will face significant negative impacts in the long-term and could see a repeat of the tragic bursting of the Xe Pian Xe Namnoy dam in Laos last July that killed dozens.
Ian Baird, a professor at the University of Wisconsin, said states and other stakeholders often ignored the potential early-stage impacts of hydropower dams, including the need for evacuation if a major incident happened.
“This is why I’m comparing the level of interest of the catastrophic event to the level of interest to the slow violence this dam has already been causing for many, many years,” Baird told the audience at a meeting at the Stimson Center in Washington in early April. “I’ve written about this since the 1990s, but without getting much attention. So ironically was when the dam broke, all of a sudden everybody cared about this project, but prior to that nobody cared.”