US embassy cable - 01HANOI1629

HANOI UPDATE #13

Identifier: 01HANOI1629
Wikileaks: View 01HANOI1629 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Hanoi
Created: 2001-07-09 10:21:00
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
Tags: EAID ENRG ETMIN
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

091021Z Jul 01

 2001HANOI01629 - UNCLASSIFIED
 
 
 
                           UNCLASSIFIED     PTQ9173

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ACTION EAP-00   

INFO  LOG-00   NP-00    AID-00   CA-01    CEA-01   CIAE-00  CTME-00  
      DINT-00  DOEE-00  ITCE-00  SRPP-00  EB-00    EXME-00  E-00     
      UTED-00  FBO-00   VC-00    FRB-00   H-01     TEDE-00  INR-00   
      IO-00    ITC-01   LAB-01   L-00     VCE-00   AC-01    NSAE-00  
      NSCE-00  OES-01   OMB-01   OPIC-01  CAEX-01  PM-00    PRS-00   
      ACE-00   SP-00    IRM-00   STR-00   TEST-00  USIE-00  VO-03    
      EPAE-00  PMB-00   DRL-02   G-00     NFAT-00  SAS-00     /015W
                  ------------------02E4F5  091052Z /38    
FM AMEMBASSY HANOI
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3307
INFO AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH CITY PRIORITY 
DEPTLABOR WASHDC
DEPTTREAS WASHDC
ASEAN COLLECTIVE
USCINCPAC HONOLULU HI//FPA//
SECDEF WASHDC//ISA-EAP
USDOC WASHDC
USDA WASHDC
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HANOI 001629 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR USAID/OFDA 
STATE FOR DRL/IL 
USDOL FOR ILAB/RSHEPARD AND NSAYRES 
STATE ALSO FOR EAP/BCLTV, EAP/EX, E/CBA AND EAP/PD 
STATE ALSO FOR CA/EX AND CA/VO 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
PAGE 02        HANOI  01629  01 OF 02  091052Z 
SECDEF FOR OSD/ISA/EA/LSTERN 
USDOC FOR 4431/MAC/AP/OKSA/HPPHO 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: EAID, ENRG, ETMIN 
SUBJECT:  HANOI UPDATE #13 
 
 
1.  (U)  FLOODING IN NORTHERN VIETNAM:  RAINY SEASON IS UPON 
US.  TYPHOON NO. 2 (DURIAN) WAS DOWNGRADED TO A TROPICAL 
DEPRESSION JUST BEFORE IT HIT THE MOUNTAINOUS REGIONS OF 
NORTHERN VIETNAM JULY 2-4 CAUSING FLOODING AND MUDSLIDES, 
KILLING AT LEAST 30 PEOPLE AND DAMAGING NEARLY OVER 30,000 
HOMES.  HARDEST HIT, BY WHAT IS BEING CALLED THE WORST 
FLOODING TO HIT NORTHERN VIETNAM IN YEARS, ARE THE REGIONS 
BORDERING THE THAI NGUYEN, CAU AND LO RIVERS, AND AT LEAST 
SIX PROVINCES HAVE BEEN SERIOUSLY AFFECTED.  LOCAL DISASTER 
RELIEF EFFORTS ARE REACHING OUT TO THE VICTIMS.  THE GVN HAS 
NOT ISSUED A CALL FOR INTERNATIONAL DISASTER RELIEF.  BUT, 
TYPHOON NO. 3 (UTOR), WHICH WREAKED HAVOC IN THE PHILIPPINES 
AND TAIWAN, HIT CHINA LAST FRIDAY, AND ALTHOUGH IT TOO WAS 
DOWNGRADED TO A TROPICAL DEPRESSION, IT APPEARS TO BE HEADED 
TO HIT NORTHERN VIETNAM SHORTLY.  THE GOVERNMENT HAS WARNED 
PEOPLE TO BE PREPARED.  THE QUESTION REMAINS JUST HOW MUCH 
MORE RAIN THE WATER-LOGGED HILLSIDES AND SWOLLEN RIVERS CAN 
MANAGE WITHOUT CAUSING A MORE WIDESPREAD DISASTER.  HYDRO- 
METEOROLOGY OFFICE PERSONNEL TELL US, HOWEVER, THERE IS NO 
IMMEDIATE THREAT IN THE RED RIVER (HANOI AREA) DESPITE THE 
GENERALLY RISING WATERS IN NORTHERN RIVERS.  POST WILL 
CONTINUE TO FOLLOW THE SITUATION CLOSELY. 
 
2. (U) SON LA HYDROELECTRIC FACILITY APPROVED: AFTER YEARS 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
PAGE 03        HANOI  01629  01 OF 02  091052Z 
OF DEBATE, VIETNAM IS COMING CLOSER TO CONSTRUCTING A HUGE 
NEW HYDROELECTRIC FACILITY IN SON LAW PROVINCE.  IN THE 
CLOSING DAYS ITS MOST RECENT SESSION, VIETNAM'S NATIONAL 
ASSEMBLY OFFICIALLY "APPROVED IN PRINCIPLE" CONSTRUCTION OF 
THE MULTI-BILLION DOLLAR SON LA HYDROELECTRIC POWER PROJECT, 
WHILE STILL RESERVING ON HOW BIG THE DAM PROJECT WILL 
ACTUALLY BE.  TWO WEEKS BEFORE, THE POLITBURO HAD APPROVED 
THE PROJECT.  AND DESPITE VOCAL OBJECTIONS FROM A NUMBER OF 
ASSEMBLY DELEGATES, VIETNAM'S POLITICAL LEADERSHIP PRESSED 
FORWARD WITH THE VOTE.  THE DAM AND POWER FACILITY ARE TO BE 
LOCATED ON THE DA RIVER UPSTREAM FROM THE HOA BINH 
HYDROELECTRIC DAM.  THREE OPTIONS HAVE BEEN PROPOSED, THE 
LARGEST OF WHICH WOULD INUNDATE 440 SQ. KILOMETERS, DISPLACE 
UP TO 100,000 OF THE MOSTLY INDIGENOUS LOCAL POPULATION, AND 
COST UP TO US$ 4 BILLION.  THE GOVERNMENT WILL NOW PRODUCE 
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ON EACH OF THE OPTIONS, AND THE 
NATIONAL ASSEMBLY WILL HOLD A FINAL VOTE DURING ITS FALL 
SESSION.  AT PRESENT, PLANS ARE TO COMPLETE THE PROJECT BY 
2016. 
 
3.  (U) SON LA DAM CON'T:  SUPPORTERS ARGUE THAT VIETNAM 
URGENTLY NEEDS EXPANDED ELECTRICITY GENERATING CAPACITY AND 
SHOULD NOT RELY ONLY ON GAS-FIRED POWER FACILITIES WHICH 
HAVE BEEN OR WILL BE CONSTRUCTED IN THE VUNG TAU-BA RIA AND 
WILL USE GAS FROM THE HUGE NAM CON SON GAS FIELD.  IN 
ADDITION, THEY ARGUE THAT THIS DAM WILL BE USED FOR 
IRRIGATION IN THE SURROUNDING PROVINCES AND TO CONTROL 
FLOODING DOWNSTREAM ON THE RED RIVER AND THAI BINH DELTAS 
DURING THE RAINY SEASON. 
 
4.  (U) SON LA DAM CON'T:  BUT THE DELEGATES IN OPPOSITION 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
PAGE 04        HANOI  01629  01 OF 02  091052Z 
VOICED MANY OF THE SAME OBJECTIONS THAT HAVE BEEN VOICED FOR 
YEARS.  FIRST, IT IS ARGUED THERE WILL BE VAST ENVIRONMENTAL 
DAMAGE IN THE CATCHMENT AREAS SURROUNDING THE DAM DUE TO 
FLOODING AND TREE LOSS AS WELL AS DOWNSTREAM.  SAFETY 
CONCERNS ARE PERHAPS EVEN MORE PRESSING.  THE DAM WOULD BE 
LOCATED IN AN EARTHQUAKE PRONE REGION AND IT IS FEARED THAT 
A BREACH IN THE DAM WOULD CAUSE THE HOA BINH DAM TO 
COLLAPSE, INUNDATING HANOI IN UP TO FIVE STORIES OF WATER IN 
A MATTER OF HOURS.  THESE ARGUMENTS GAINED GREATER CREDENCE 
EARLIER THIS YEAR AFTER NEAR-BY LAI CHAU PROVINCE WAS HIT 
WITH AN EARTHQUAKE MEASURING 5.3 ON THE RICHTER SCALE AND 
CAUSING SEVERAL MILLION DOLLARS WORTH OF STRUCTURAL DAMAGE. 
 
5.  (U)  SON LA DAM CON'T:  OTHERS ARGUE THAT THERE HAS NOT 
BEEN SUFFICIENT THOUGHT GIVEN TO THE LOGISTICS AND FINANCES 
REQUIRED TO RELOCATE ALL THOSE THAT WILL BE DISPLACED. 
SPECIFICALLY, MANY WORRY THAT THE CURRENT PLAN TO SEND THE 
DISPLACED POPULATION TO THE CENTRAL HIGHLANDS WILL FURTHER 
DESTABILIZE THIS REGION WHICH WAS ROCKED BY PROTESTS ON THE 
PART OF SOME OF THE REGION'S INDIGENOUS POPULATION IN 
FEBRUARY. 
 
6.  (U)  SON LA DAM CON'T:  FINALLY, THERE ARE SERIOUS 
QUESTIONS ABOUT HOW VIETNAM WILL FINANCE THE PROJECT.  IN 
THE PAST, THE VIETNAMESE GOVERNMENT HAS INDICATED IT WILL 
FINANCE THE PROJECT OUT OF THE STATE BUDGET.  HOWEVER, MORE 
RECENTLY VIETNAM NEWS QUOTED ONE OFFICIAL AS SAYING THAT 30 
PERCENT OF THE FUNDING WOULD COME FROM FOREIGN LOANS. 
HOWEVER,  WORLD BANK AND OTHER DONORS WILL BE UNLIKELY TO 
PROVIDE FUNDING GIVEN CONCERNS ABOUT SAFETY, THE ENVIRONMENT 
AND DISPLACED PERSONS.  AND FOREIGN INVESTMENT IS UNLIKELY 
TO BE AN OPTION, EVEN IF THE GVN IS WILLING TO CONSIDER 
PERMITTING IT, GIVEN THE PROBLEMS VIETNAM HAS HAD IN THE 
PAST COMING TO AGREEMENT WITH PRIVATE INVESTORS ON OTHER 
ELECTRICITY GENERATION PROJECTS. 
 
7.  (U) SON LA DAM - COMMENT: FOR NOW AT LEAST, THE 
VIETNAMESE LEADERSHIP SEEMS DETERMINED TO IGNORE THE 
QUESTIONS AND MOVE FORWARD.  BUT EVENTUALLY, THESE CONCERNS 
WILL HAVE TO BE ADDRESSED.  ONE HOPES THAT THIS OCCURS 
SOONER RATHER THAN LATER WHEN CONSTRUCTION IS STARTED, 
PEOPLE ARE MOVING AND FUNDS BEING SPENT.  COMMENT 
 
PETERSON 
 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
 


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