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Dec 15, 1999

WWF has doubts about Chalillo Dam

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The movement to prevent the implementation of the Chalillo hydro project today brought out one of its biggest guns. Kathryn Fuller, President of the World Wildlife Fund, spoke this afternoon at the invitation of BACONGO, the Belize Alliance for Conservation NGOs. Fuller explained that while her organization is not opposed to the general concept of hydroelectric power, a report financed by WWF and carried out by John Reid for BACONGO raises serious doubts about the viability of Chalillo.

Kathryn Fuller, President, World Wildlife Fund

“From what I have read of the Reid report… Reading the Reid report certainly doesn’t dissipate any concerns that I would have or WWF would have about the economic viability of the proposed project.

The economic costs would exceed benefits substantially according to the Reid report by about five point four million and that the costs of this project would have to be passed on to Belizeans in some fashion. And, that there are external costs that would result, from the impacts from deforestation or resulting from new roads or from direct inundation, the potential to have an impact on ecotourism and so forth.”

B.E.L. for its part has commissioned studies which it says come to precisely the opposite conclusions. These reports, however, have not yet been released in their entirety to the public. In something of a coincidence, the President of Fortis Incorporated, the company which recently purchased a controlling interest in B.E.L., is also in Belize. Stan Marshall, in addressing the weekly Rotary luncheon, said that Fortis “will help facilitate the development of Belize’s hydro resources where it is economically and environmentally attractive.” Marshall is here to attend B.E.L.’s Annual General Meeting which will be held tonight at the Biltmore.


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