UPDATE 1-Brazil court suspends Amazon hydrodam license on native demands

jueves 14 de enero de 2016 18:54 GYT

(New throughout, adds details about the ruling, Norte Energia comment, background on hydrodam)

By Jeb Blount

RIO DE JANEIRO Jan 14 (Reuters) - A Brazilian court suspended the operating license for the Belo Monte hydroelectric dam, one of the world's largest, just weeks before owner Norte Energia SA planned to start electricity generation, prosecutors said on Thursday.

Judge Maria Carolina Valente do Carmo of the Federal Court in Altamira, Para, said the license will be suspended until Norte Energia and Brazil's government meet a previous license requirement to reorganize the regional office of Funai, the national Indian protection agency.

A judge had already ordered the government and Norte Energia to carry out the Funai restructuring work in 2014, so Valente do Carmo also fined the government and the company 900,000 reais ($225,000) for non-compliance.

The Belo Monte dam, one of the most controversial ever constructed in Brazil, is located on the Xingu River near Altamira.

Belo Monte will have an installed capacity of 11,233 megawatts. Its average output, though, will only be about a third of that as the original reservoir was greatly reduced at the request of native groups and environmentalists.

These critics objected to the dam blocking one of the last free-flowing major tributaries of the Amazon. They also opposed an early reservoir plan that would have flooded thousands of square kilometers of virgin rain forest.

Tens of thousands of workers moving to the region to build the massive project also raised fears that many would stay and expand illegal logging, mining and farming in the rainforest.   Continuación...