WWF's online petition to Stop Don Sahong Dam reaches 150,000 signatures within one month!



Posted on 11 June 2014
“As the sole project developer and a newcomer to hydropower, Mega First should act responsibly as a corporation and as a global citizen, and respect internationally accepted dam development standards,” said Mr Chhith Sam Ath, Country Director of WWF-Cambodia. “If the Don Sahong dam is built, it will be the final nail in the coffin of Irrawaddy Dolphins. There is still hope for these dolphins, but it rests in the hands of the directors of Mega First Corporation.”
© David Dove / WWF Greater MekongEnlarge
On UN International Day of Biodiversity, May 22, WWF launched an online petition, calling on Mega First Corporation Berhad to suspend construction of the Don Sahong hydropower dam that threatens the Mekong river’s critically endangered Irrawaddy dolphins with extinction. The petition was opened via two online platforms, one on Causes.com and one on the WWF-US’ website.

Within two weeks of the petition going 'Live', the set goal of 50,000 signatures was met, between the number of signatures received via the two online petition platforms. As of now (Tuesday June 17), the petition has nearly 27,000 signatures on Causes.com and nearly 46,000 on the WWF-US’ site. Furthermore, the petition has also lately been launched on two more online platforms: Change.org and Care2, where it has picked up a further 48,071 and 27,570 signatures, respectively. Altogether, this puts the number of signatures on the petition at just under 150,000. 

Construction of the Don Sahong dam is scheduled to start later this year. The proposed site for the dam is adjacent to the core habitat of the approximately 85 Mekong dolphins remaining in a 190-km stretch of the Mekong River between Kratie province in Cambodia and the border with Laos. The dam will cause the disappearance of the dolphins from Laos, and increase their risk of extinction from the Mekong.

The dam developer Mega First plans to use explosives to excavate millions of tonnes of rock, creating strong sound waves that could potentially kill the dolphins, which have highly sensitive hearing structures. Increased boat traffic, changes in water quality and habitat destruction pose other major risks to their survival.

“The dam’s impacts on the dolphins probably cannot be mitigated, and certainly not through the limited and vague plans outlined in the project’s environmental impact assessment,” said Mr Gerry Ryan, author of a WWF scientific review of potential impacts of the Don Sahong Hydropower Project titled ‘The Don Sahong Dam and the Mekong Dolphin’. “The Directors of Mega First have a choice – to side with the great river and its people, and find a sustainable path, or to continue with this flawed project and precipitate the extinction of the Mekong’s dolphins,” Mr Ryan added.

Earlier this year, WWF’s analysis revealed that the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) conducted by Mega First uses flawed and incomplete research, putting at risk the world's most productive inland fisheries, and the livelihoods of 60 million people living in the Lower Mekong Basin. Despite calls by the Cambodian Government, non-governmental organisations, civil society groups and local communities along the Mekong River for in-depth trans-boundary impact assessments; Mega First has decided to forge ahead with the project.
“As the sole project developer and a newcomer to hydropower, Mega First should act responsibly as a corporation and as a global citizen, and respect internationally accepted dam development standards,” said Mr Chhith Sam Ath, Country Director of WWF-Cambodia. “If the Don Sahong dam is built, it will be the final nail in the coffin of Irrawaddy Dolphins. There is still hope for these dolphins, but it rests in the hands of the directors of Mega First Corporation.”
© David Dove / WWF Greater Mekong Enlarge

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