Judge blocks Amazon dam

A federal judge ordered a halt to work on the controversial Belo Monte dam Friday, saying the environmental agency that approved the project failed to meet its own standards.

The judge, Ronaldo Desterro, in the state of Para, also barred the Brazilian national development bank from releasing any further funds for the project. Slated to be built on the Xingu river in the eastern Amazon, Belo Monte would be the third-largest dam on earth.

“All work on the site must be halted,” the judge said, according this report by Globo News. Among other environmental objections, the judge said the project failed to provide a sufficient contingency plan to ensure transportation along sections of river where water levels are expected to drop drastically.

Belo Monte has attracted a host of critics worldwide—“Avatar” director James Cameron among them—who say the project will harm the environment and indigenous communities living along the river. We also reported recently that a growing number of experts object to the project on technical and economic grounds, saying the Amazon’s increasingly erratic rainfall will leave the hydroelectric dam unable to deliver a steady stream of electricity.