All concerns have been taken into account in the development of the Xayaboury run-off-river hydropower plant the project developer recently relayed to European Union (EU) Ambassador to Laos, Leon Paul Faber.
The ambassador, who took office in September last year, and his delegates visited the construction site of the US$4 billion project on Saturday.
Fish migration and nutrient sediment float have been a major concern for downstream countries. Concerns have arisen that if sentiments are blocked, it could minimise nutrients for fish in Cambodia's Tonle Sap Lake and degrade fertilisation in the Mekong Delta in Vietnam.
Deputy Managing Director of Xayaboury Power Company Limited (XPCL)'s Operation and Maintenance, Mr Anuparp Wonglakorn confirmed that almost all nutrient sediment could pass freely through the spillways and turbines.
In his presentation that briefed viewers on the world-class technology being applied to develop the project, Mr Anuparp demonstrated by pictures and video how sediments could float through the plant structure downstream and how fish can also mi grate upstream and downstream.
Internationally-recognised companies - Poyry and AF-consult from Switzerland, CNR from France and Team Group from Thailand, whose engineers and experts have broad international backgrounds and experiences in hydropower - have been employed for the development of the project in all relevant aspects.
Almost all sediment will be able to pass through the plant structure,Mr Anuparp reiterated to local media who accompanied the diplomats' visits.
Studies have showed that 97 percent are light sediments that float on the running water and as the water is running, the current will enable these light sediments to float downstream, he stated.
The remaining 3 percent of heavier sediments could have sunken down but we can flush them downstream though low-level outlets. Mr Anuparp added.
The video presentation also demonstrated how fish could migrate upstream through fish ladders Mr Anuparp said that natural-like facilities have been developed to suit Mekong fish circumstances.
Before the design of the facilities, we have carried out experiments to collect data on behaviours of all kinds of fish and the behaviours were taken into account, he said.
The slope and the length of the ladders, as well as how strong the current should be, have been designed to enable fish to migrate through the plant.
Migration channels have also been provided along with the utilisation of fish-friendly turbines to enable fish to migrate downstream.
Navigation channels have been in use and the facility is designed to capably accommodate as heavy as a 500-tonne ship to pass through. Currently, about 30 cargo ships will pass through the channel per month with the heaviest one weighing 300 tonnes.
Thousands of households affected by the project have been resettled with the provision of household income generating activities among other agreements.
After being briefed through the presentation, EU Ambassador Leon Paul Faber told Vientiane Times that he was impressed by the scope of the project and the way it has been implemented.
I am of course not an expert on this kind of construction but it looks to me that all efforts have been done to also consider environmental issues and social impacts so I think it looks to me to be a very good project, he said.
Construction of the 29-year concession project began in 2012 with completion slated for 2019. As much as 95 percent of power generated by the 1,285 MW project will be sold to Thailand, while the remaining 5 percent will be sold here in Laos.
During the concession period, the project is expected to earn almost US$4 billion for the government.
By Time Reporters
(Latest Update February 21, 2017)