Laos: Groups call on companies to be held accountable for collapse of Xe Pian-Xe Namnoy dam

On July 23, 2018, a dam in the Xe Pian-Xe Namnoy hydropower project collapsed and released massive amount of water that resulted to disastrous flooding in districts of southern Laos.

Ratchaburi Electricity Generating Holding Public Company published a statement on their relief efforts in the affected communities. SK E&C also has a similar statement.

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited the companies involved in the construction and finance of the project to respond to allegations of faulty construction. The companies invited to respond were: 1) Export-Import Bank of Korea; 2) Krung Thai Bank; 3) Bank of Ayudhaya; 4) Lao Holding State Enterprise; 5) Korea Western Power Company; 6) Mitsubishi UFJ Bank 7) Ratchaburi Electricity Generating Holding Public Company; 8) SK E&C; and 9) Xe-Pian Xe-Namnoy Power Company. None of these companies responded.

 

 

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Article
23 March 2019

Laos’ Deputy Prime Minister Blames PNPC Dam Collapse on Poor Planning

Author: Eugene Whong, Radio Free Asia

20 March 2019

Laos' deputy prime minister has identified poor soil analysis for a fatal hydropower dam collapse, often described as the country's worst flooding in decades.

...Deputy Prime Minister Bounthong Chitmany, who also heads the investigative committee tasked with finding the causes of the Xe Pian Xe Namnoy (PNPC) hydropower project disaster, blamed the collapse on a severe lack of oversight.

..."[We are however in agreement] that we did not properly study the environment of the soil or conduct proper soil analyses," he said.

"If we had carefully conducted soil analyses like we are doing now after the fact, we would have rejected the project altogether, or we wouldn't have allowed the construction of the dam," said Chitmany.

...Civil Engineering professor Richard Meehan said that he was able to determine that the project was dangerously flawed without conducting soil analysis.

...PNPC was a consortium between formed by a local Lao company and South Korea's SK Engineering & Construction. Korean involvement in the project has prompted Seoul to send its own relief teams to Laos to help mitigate the effects of the disaster.

In the wake of the Xe Pian Xe Namnoy disaster, Laos has stepped up scrutiny of an ambitious hydropower dam building program under which it aims to serve as the "battery of Asia" and sell hydropower to its more industrialized neighbors China, Thailand and others.

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Article
3 February 2019

Laos Pays Compensation to Families of Dead and Missing in PNPC Dam Disaster

Author: Eugene Whong, Radio Free Asia

29 February 2019

Relatives of Lao villagers killed or left missing by the July 2018 dam disaster have received compensation from the government, government officials have confirmed.

The disaster, described as Laos' worst flooding in decades, occurred when a saddle dam at the Xe Pian Xe Namnoy (PNPC) hydropower project collapsed....

...Compensation for property losses or damages have meanwhile not been approved yet because an official investigation into the collapse has not been concluded.

...[A] Special Task National Relief Committee had approved compensation of $10,000 per person to families of those missing or killed during the disaster.

...The committee also recommended PNPC, SK E&C, a South Korean company in the consortium, and the insurance company conduct a ceremony to hand over the compensation to the relatives and families of the victims as soon as possible.

..."We're not very happy about the $10,000 compensation," said Bang Manichanh who lost both her grandparents in the disaster. "We have no choice but to accept it. They never talked to us, never asked us how much we wanted."

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Article
16 December 2018

Commentary: As Laos sees growing investment from South Korea, local communities are left behind

Author: Skylar Lindsay, ASEAN Today

7 December 2018

...When the Xe Pian-Xe Nam Noy dam in Laos collapsed, two South Korean companies involved in the construction of the dam project suddenly faced tough questions....

...[T]he issues behind it are in fact characteristic of foreign direct investment (FDI) in Laos.

As South Korea seeks to deepen economic ties with Laos, weak regulations and the social and environmental risks involved threaten both local communities in Laos and Korean investors.

...Projects by SK E&C and Korea Western Power in Laos are part of a much larger plan coming out of Seoul – Korea’s new Southern Policy....

...By investing in the energy sector without helping to improve regulations and address social and environmental impacts, South Korean businesses are exposed to a huge amount of risk.

...It is in international investors best interests to work with the Lao government and local Lao communities to prevent these disasters. No one is better positioned to do so at the moment than South Korean firms.

South Korea also has domestic mechanisms to support equitable economic change in Laos. Much of Korea’s investment in Laos is funnelled through its Official Development Assistance program....

...If South Korea can reform ODA regulations to improve sustainability and work with local Lao communities to set the economic agenda, they might set a model for other countries’ FDI in Laos.

...Rather than continuing to increase their investments...South Korean government and corporations might use their influence to build stronger rules around FDI that will reduce risks for local communities and investors....

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Article
2 December 2018

Government Fails in Promise to Deliver Assistance to Victims of Laos Dam Burst

Author: Radio Free Asia

27 November 2018

Survivors of July’s disaster at the Xe Pian Xe Namnoy (PNPC) hydropower project in Champassak, Laos are calling upon the local and national governments for relief, after failing to receive promised allowances for living expenses for the past two month....

...[T]he Lao government agreed to pay $12 per month to each person who was affected by the collapse of PNPC’s dam....

...“[T]he victims have received food allowances but they haven’t received any of the $12 living allowance.”

...[R]ecipients of the food assistance complained that the rice they received was low-quality or rotten.

...A victim told Leuangpanya and later RFA, “We don’t need any more bottled water. Instead the authorities should provide each family with water filters so we can filter the water from the wells. Local authorities have run out of money....”

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Article
11 November 2018

Laos: Details emerge that govt and some companies knew of dam's defects days before its collapse

Author: Asia Times

"Details emerge of 'confusion' in Laos prior to dam collapse," 08 November 2018

More details have emerged about the collapse of a dam in southern Laos in July, which suggest that local officials and the companies involved were not well prepared for a possible disaster such as the dam bursting.

Evidence is emerging that suggests there were signs of trouble at the Xe-Pian Xe-Namnoy hydropower (PNPC) project in Champasak and Attapeu provinces in the days before the collapse on July 23.

The Korea JoongAng Daily reported shortly...that Korea Western Power...was aware of problems several days earlier.

Korea Western president Kim Byung-sook told the Korean Trade, Industry, Energy, SMEs and Startups Committee that his company was aware on July 20 that the top of the auxiliary dam had sunk 11 centimeters. However, the dam builders allegedly felt this subsidence was not serious enough to require repairs.

RFA’s Lao service says it obtained a record of communications between relevant officials in Attapeu and PNPC on the day of the disaster...

“The report appears to show that the government was ill-equipped to handle the emergency, with notices going up and down the chain of command, redundant communications between PNPC and local and provincial government agencies, and general confusion about when to start evacuations,” RFA said.

 

 

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Company non-response
15 September 2018

Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group did not respond

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group to respond to a report mentioning the bank as a co-financier of the companies involved in the construction of the collapsed dam that forms part of the Xe-Pian Xe-Namnoy hydropower project in Champassak, Laos.  The company did not respond.

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+ 日本語 - Hide

Author: メコンウォッチ

今回の悲惨な事故に多くの人びとを巻き込んだのは、一義的には関連企業の責任です。しかし、 企業のダム建設を可能にした融資機関、さらには大規模ダム建設に依存するラオス政府の開発政策 とそれを後押ししてきた援助国・機関の役割についても検証する必要があります。 

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Company non-response
26 August 2018

Bank of Ayudha did not respond

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited Bank of Ayudha to respond to a report mentioning the bank as a co-financier of the companies involved in the construction of the collapsed dam that forms part of the Xe-Pian Xe-Namnoy hydropower project in Champassak, Laos.  The company did not respond.

Company non-response
26 August 2018

Export-Import Bank of Korea did not respond

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited Export-Import Bank to respond to a report mentioning the bank as a co-financier of the companies involved in the construction of the collapsed dam that forms part of the Xe-Pian Xe-Namnoy hydropower project in Champassak, Laos.  The company did not respond.

Company non-response
26 August 2018

Korea Western Power Company did not respond

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited Korea Western Power Company to respond to a report alleging faulty construction of the collapsed dam that forms part of the Xe-Pian Xe-Namnoy hydropower project in Champassak, Laos.  The company did not respond.