Ibama, the Brazilian environmental regulator, has fined the builder of the 3150MW Santo Antonio project over fish fatalities caused by construction-related work.

The national agency found 11 tonnes of fish killed by the construction-related work on the river Madeira, in the western state of Rondonia. A fine of US$7.7M was set against the builder, Madeira Energia Consortium (Mesa).

Ibama said that the fine was calculated from one law which sets a value of US$500 per kilo of fish killed, which brought the basic cost to US$5.5M. However, the sum was increased through allowance in another law, which resulted in the fine being increased by 40%.

Costs incurred by the builder will also include remedial works to counter the damage caused to fisheries.

The fine follows a site visit to the project on 10 December 2008 by the state representative of Ibama. The team gave technical guidance on helping to minimise fisheries impacts.

Santo Antonio is being constructed on the Madeira rapids, approximately 6km upstream of the cities of Porto Velho and Vila de Abuna on the Brazilian and Bolivian borders, respectively.

The JV builder, Mesa, is a consortium led by Brazilian electricity utility Furnas and construction group Odebrecht. Mesa was awarded a 30-year concession to build, operate, manage and market the output of the hydro power project at the end of 2007, the award being confirmed shortly after.

Construction work on Santo Antonio started in the third quarter of 2008. The plant will have 44 units and first power is scheduled to be produced in the third quarter of 2012.

Santo Antonio is a part of the 6450MW Madeira scheme, which consists of two major projects – the other being the 3300MW Jirau project.