The government of Bolivia complained the Brazilian analyses failed to address potential environmental impacts on its territory from the projects, which will have large reservoirs.

The Madeira is relatively low-lying and each of the hydro projects – the 3,150MW Santo Antonio and the 3,300MW Jirau schemes – will have extensive reservoirs of 258km2 and 271.3km2, respectively.

In a letter from the Bolivian Foreign Office, it was also stated it was not given the opportunity to review and feed-back on the environmental impact studies performed in Brazil.

The complaint comes almost immediately after the two hydro schemes were awarded conditional environmental licences by Brazil’s national environmental regulator Ibama.

Bolivia’s Foreign Office has stressed the ‘gravity of the problem’, especially given both countries being signatories to international agreements on environmental protection and use of Amazonian resources.

It has called for co-operation at the highest levels to resolve the problem and has requested the data used for the licensing analysis in Brazil. The Bolivian government also wants talks to resolve the differences between the countries over the hydro projects.

There was no immediate formal response from the Brazilian government to the official complaint and call for co-operation from Bolivia over the projects.

Ibama stated that its licensing of the schemes came after months of extended review and enables the Brazilian government to finally proceed with auctioning the construction and operation of Santo Antonio and Jirau. Earlier this year it was noted that the government had wanted to be able to do so around mid-year.

The agency has set more than 30 conditions on the environmental licences for the projects, including various measures to clear the way for and monitor movement of sediment and fish larvae, as well as pollutants. However, Bolivia complained that it was not consulted over what are catchment issues, with concerns over health, wildlife and natural resources.

The environmental studies on the scheme have been progressed by power utility Furnas and construction group Odebrecht.

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