Start of Latest Mekong Dam Draws Fears of River’s ‘Tipping Point’

Critics of the 1,285-megawatt Xayaburi hydropower dam in northern Laos fear recent upgrades to the controversial project won’t be enough to save the Mekong River from a critical tipping point when it starts churning out electricity at full throttle next month.

After seven years of construction, it will be the first of 11 dams planned for the river south of China — which has built 11 dams across the Mekong already — to go online.

Some 50 million people downstream rely for a living on the river’s waters, along with the fish and sediment it washes their way. Researchers and environmental advocates say the dam could block both.

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