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Brazil regulator to appeal order allowing EDF plant to resume power generation

Luciano Costa
·1 min read

By Luciano Costa

SAO PAULO, Jan 8 (Reuters) - Sema, an environment agency in Brazil's Mato Grosso state, said it will appeal a court injunction that allowed operation of a 400-megawatt power plant to resume after thousands of fish on the Teles Pires river died.

The agency ordered the Sinop Energia plant, majority owned by a unit of France's EDF, to close after the incident in August, but the order was temporarily overturned last week.

"The operation of spillway gates, as well as of the generators of the Sinop hydroelectric plant, should only resume after approval by the agency of measures to prevent new fish deaths," Sema said in a statement.

The regulatory wrangle highlights the environmental hurdles facing the generators of Brazil's hydroelectric power, the country's main source of electricity for decades.

Issues at the 3.3 billion reais ($612.53 million) Sinop plant date back to February 2019 when some 13 tonnes of fish died during the filling of the dam's reservoir. At the time, Sema claimed the closing and opening of the floodgates reduced oxygenation of the water and suffocated the fish.

A second similar incident led to the plant's temporary shutdown by Sema in March 2020. Sinop Energia denied any wrongdoing and has said it complies with all environmental regulations.

Sinop Energia was fined 50 million reais ($9.24 million) when the first incident was reported, 12 million reais for the second event and 36 million reais in August, when 7 tonnes of fish died, records show. (Reporting by Luciano Costa Writing by Ana Mano; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)