Last July 28, 2017, six workers have been killed and another two were injured in an explosion at the Nam Ngiep 1 Hydropower Project. The pressurized oxygen cylinder burst during transportation by two workers, killing three instantly and injuring an additional five of whom three died at a hospital in Paksan, capital of the Borikhamxay province. All six workers are Vietnamese nationals and worked for Song Da 5, one of the subcontractors on the project.
The Managing Director of Nam Ngiep 1 Power Company (NNP1PC) Yoshihiro Yamabayashi stated that “the cause of the accident is under investigation by the provincial police, and civil construction works in the area have been suspended until the situation returns to normal”.
WHAT IS THE NAM NGIEP 1 POWER COMPANY?
The 290 MW Nam Ngiep 1 Dam is being built upstream from the central Lao town of Pakxan, in the provinces of Bolikhamxay and Xaysomboun. More than 3000 people, who are primarily Hmong and Khmu, will be forced to resettle. However, many of the affected families living in the area that will be inundated by the reservoir do not consider the land available at the resettlement site or the compensation being offered for their land or assets as adequate. Upstream and downstream of the project site, villagers say they have not yet had access to clear, understandable information about the pending impacts and what plans are in place to mitigate these impacts.
The Nam Ngiep Power Company (NN1PC) is a consortium comprised of Japan’s Kansai Electric Power Company (45%), Thailand’s EGAT International Company (30%) and the Lao Holding State Enterprise (25%). Over 90% of the electricity to be generated will be for export to Thailand. Road construction for the dam site and logging at the site of the reservoir has begun, even though the environmental impact assessment and resettlement action plan are still being finalized. Pending financing, the dam is planned to be completed by 2018. The main storage dam will be 148m high, which will make it the highest dam in the country, and will have a 67 km2 reservoir.
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) approved a US $216 million private sector loan for the company (Project 41924-014) despite clear violations of their safeguard provisions on the environment, involuntary resettlement and Indigenous People. Japan's Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) has also confirmed project financing equivalent to US $197 million.
Approximately 95 percent of power generated will be exported to Thailand, with the remainder slated for domestic consumption.