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Published September 8, 2010 08:59 AM

Ecuador's tallest waterfall to be destroyed by Chinese dam

San Rafael Falls, Ecuador's tallest waterfall, is threatened by a Chinese-funded hydroelectric project, reports Save America's Forests, an environmental group.

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The 1,500 megawatt Coca-Codo Sinclair Hydroelectric Project will divert water flow away from the 480-foot San Rafael Falls, leaving it "high and dry." Worse, the project, which is scheduled for completion in 2016, will be pressure on Sumaco Biosphere Reserve, an area so renowned for its biodiversity that "even the oil companies spared this area during prospection and development of pipeline corridors in the Ecuadorian Amazon," according to Save America's Forests, which says the falls have become the principal attraction of Sumaco.

"It is located in the mega-diverse transition zone between the Andes Mountains and the Amazon," stated the environmental group in a press release. "The falls have become one of the more prominent images and icons for promoting ecotourism in Ecuador, a country that made headlines in 2008 for being the first nation to grant constitutional rights to nature itself."

Matt Finer of Save America's Forests says the dam goes against the spirit of Ecuador's constitution as well as its recent proposal to protect Yasuni National Park in the Amazon from oil development.

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