Aimorés Hydroelectric Power Plant, Minas Gerais, Brazil

Communities in Aimorés were still demanding compensation for the construction of Aliança's hydroelectric plant (controlled by Vale), when the tailing dams failure of Samarco (also controlled by Vale) destroyed the river impacted by the hydroelectric dam.


Description

The hydroelectric power plant called 'Aimorés' is officially named 'Eliézer Batista'. It is operated by the consortium CEMIG (energy company) and Vale (transnational mining company). The hydroelectric power plant on the river Doce started to work in 2005, affecting 3 municipalities in Minas Gerais State: Itueta, Resplendor and Aimorés. An environmental conflict occurred due to the changes in the course of the River Doce, the flooding of an area larger than initially forseen, the neglect of the companies to the local practices and residents, and the non-compliance of the environmental license. The Itueta city was totally flooded and had to be rebuilt, not all residents were resettled nor compensated. Beyond that, the new town experiences frequent floods and the houses are cracking. In the Resplendor city the plant damaged the fishery, and a lot of species disappeared. And the companies have not resolved the sewage problem, one of the conditions of the agreement. Indigenous Krenak lands did not appeared in the EIA, the hydroelectric plant changed the ancestral fishing practices, and affected the Krenak`s sacred relation to the river. At Aimorés city, the fishermen and small farmers were severely affected. Subsistence fishing activity is not viable anymore, and plantations that served to subsistence crops were flooded [1, 2].

The demand of local communities was partly the subject of a Public Civil Action of 2001. The Federal Public Prosecutor's Office of Minas Gerais pointed out numerous irregularities in the environmental licensing process of the hydroelectric dam, questioning the analysis of its impacts on affected communities and the socio-environmental viability of the venture. However, the Public Civil Action that dealt with these issues took 13 years to be judged in the first instance (from 2001 to 2015). Thus, most of the original claims of the action ended up losing object, among them the suspension of the implantation of the hydroelectric - remaining only the request for compensation of environmental damages or indemnifications [3].

The fishermen of Aimorés also disputed the amount paid by the Aliança Energia, the consortium responsible for the plant controlled by Vale, as compensation for damages to fishing. Also, the compensation was paid only to 123 fishermen, but many others claimed in court for more than ten years for the right to receive it. In September 2015, the prosecution filed a new lawsuit against the plant, charging about US$ 10 million for moral damages and individual indemnification in the amount of US$ 20 thousand for each of the 123 fishermen. However, a few months later, when the Samarco (Fundão) dam, also controlled by Vale (and BHP Billinton), broke down, all communities affected by the Aimorés hydroelectric plant were again radically affected. The tailings of the Fundão dam killed the entire fauna of the Rio Doce. Now, the populations affected by the Aimorés hydroelectric dam, whose livelihood has been completely destroyed, are fighting for compensation from the mining companies Samarco, Vale and BHP [4].

Basic Data
NameAimorés Hydroelectric Power Plant, Minas Gerais, Brazil
CountryBrazil
ProvinceMinas Gerais
SiteItueta, Resplendor and Aimorés
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Water Management
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Dams and water distribution conflicts
Specific CommoditiesElectricity
Water
Land
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsThe HEP has a final installed capacity of 330 MW.

Its a run-of-river project, the catchment area of the dam is 62,167 km2. The long term mean flow is 292 m3/s. The reservoir covers 30.9 km2 at the maximum normal water level (1).
Project Area (in hectares)280,000
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Population50,000
Start Date2005
Company Names or State EnterprisesVale (Vale) from Brazil - formerly named Companhia Vale do Rio Doce (Brazil)
Companhia Energética de Minas Gerais (CEMIG) from Brazil
Relevant government actorsMPF - Federal Public Ministry, MPE/MG - State Public Ministry of Minas Gerais
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersMAB -Movement of People Affected by Dams, APRAPUHA - Association of Landowners Affected by Hydroelectric Aimorés, APERDOCE -Fishermen Association of Resplendor City, Association of Residents of Itueta, Indigenous Community Krenak
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingFarmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Neighbours/citizens/communities
Social movements
Fisher people
Forms of MobilizationBlockades
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Objections to the EIA
Obstructing the railway till their demands are met
Impacts
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Food insecurity (crop damage), Global warming, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil erosion, Waste overflow, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Health ImpactsVisible: Infectious diseases
Potential: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Outcome
Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCompensation
Land demarcation
Court decision (failure for environmental justice)
Court decision (undecided)
Under negotiation
Development of AlternativesThe affected people want their rights recognized and compliance with agreements.
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.The hydroelectric power plant is in operation and the affected communities are still claiming their rights to compensation.
Sources and Materials
References

Silva, R.G.S., Silva, V.P. Efeitos e processos de (des)territorialização na implantação da UHE de Aimorés (MG). Caminhos de Geografia. 2001.
[click to view]

[1] Michael Sucharov (for Comite Brasileiro de Barragens. Aimorés Hydroeletric Powerplant on the Doce River. 2009
[click to view]

MAB – Movimento dos Atingidos por Barragens, 'O modelo de energia eletrica no Brasil e as grandes empresas brasileiras', in 'As empresas transnacionais brasileiras na america latina: un debate necessário'. Relatório da Rede Social de Justiça e Direitos Humanos, 2009.
[click to view]

Links

Official website of the HEP
[click to view]

[2] Cimi. Krenak Indigenous People Block Railway of biggest Brazilian Mining Company. 1.12.2005
[click to view]

Mapa de Conflictos Ambientais de Minas Gerais, Ficha Tecnica (in Portuguese)
[click to view]

[3] MPF/MG: consórcio da Usina de Aimorés é condenado a reparar danos ambientais. 12.08.2015.
[click to view]

[4] Folha de São Paulo. Pescadores do rio Doce já esperavam reparação antes da tragédia em MG. Lucas Ferraz, Avener Prado. 4 de dezembro de 2015.
[click to view]

Media Links

Documentary. 'Power on the River'
[click to view]

video 'Ortlieb. Amor à Terra' (UHE Aimorés)
[click to view]

Other Documents

Aimorés hydroelectric power plant
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorAndréa Zhouri
Last update19/02/2019
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