Brazil court suspends Belo Monte dam operating license over sanitation

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - A federal court in Brazil suspended the operating license of the massive Belo Monte hydroelectric dam on environmental grounds, according to a statement late on Thursday from federal prosecutors in the state of Pará.

The dam’s operating consortium Norte Energia SA, led by state-controlled energy group Centrais Eletricas Brasileiras SA, or Eletrobras, must complete basic sanitation works in the city of Altamira before filling the dam’s reservoir, the prosecutors said.

The sanitation work was a condition for Brazil environmental agency Ibama licensing the 11,233-megawatt Belo Monte dam, which has drawn controversy for its impact on the native communities along a tributary of the Amazon river.

Norte Energia SA said it has yet to be informed of the court’s ruling.

Budgeted at 30 billion reais ($9.6 billion), Belo Monte will be one of the largest hydropower plants in the world when construction is completed in 2019.

Ten out of Belo Monte’s 24 turbines are already operating.

Reporting by Luciano Costa; Writing by Ana Mano; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli