Protests against Latin America’s pursuit of hydropower are increasing as the environmental costs mount up. Is the end of the region’s mega dams in sight?
The rains had been monumental throughout April 2014. By early May, the operators of the 219 MW Cachoeira Caldeirão dam being built in Brazil’s remote Amapá state knew that levels on the Araguari river were dangerously high. If some water was not released fast, the whole thing might collapse. There would be no danger to people because any run-off would be absorbed by two other dams downstream, the hydropower company thought.
But communications failed and no one warned the small town of Ferreira Gomes, nestled on the banks of the Araguari nearly 50km away.