Social/Environmental Programs

Santo Antônio Energia’s 28 social and environmental programs in the Porto Velho area were implemented during construction and after the Santo Antônio hydroelectric dam went online. They are part of the Basic Environmental Plan (PBA), a document in which the company undertook to invest in initiatives to reduce the impact of the project, preserve the environment and contribute to local socioeconomic development for the benefit of the community’s quality of life.

The PBA resulted from six years of study and an intense process of clarification and interaction with the Porto Velho community. It was also one of the main stages of the licensing process conducted by IBAMA (the Brazilian Institute of Environment and Natural Resources) and necessary for the construction and operation of the dam.

In addition, several programs were sanctioned through Protocols of Intent signed by the Santo Antônio Energia, the City of Porto Velho and the State of Rondônia.

The PBA programs include:


1. Groundwater

Since 2010, Santo Antônio Energia has monitored the level and quality of the groundwater in the vicinity of the dam. This allows for the adoption of preventive and corrective measures when changes in indicators are found. The company has installed 52 piezometers (specific equipment for these measurements) around the reservoirs. Other measures taken under this the program were the registration of water sources and their pollutants and development of mathematical modeling for water flow (which allows predictions about filling of the reservoir).

Groundwater monitoring will be conducted until 2015.

2. Seismology

Also in 2010 Santo Antônio began monitoring local seismology (sudden and transient movements of the Earth’s surface). This study required the deployment of a system composed of two local seismic stations, connected to the Samuel hydroelectric plant on the Jamari River (a tributary of the Madeira River) in Candeias do Jamari, Rondônia. It can detect tremors caused by blasting at the construction site and by local, regional and teleseismic (distant) earthquakes.

Seismology monitoring will be conducted throughout the life of the Santo Antônio dam.

3. Climate

Consists of the collection and verification of climatological data and constant updating of its database. The initiative required the installation in June 2010 of two automated weather stations: one at the Santo Antônio dam and another in the Calama community (a rural area in greater Porto Velho). Data is collected minute by minute, consolidated, transmitted via GOES satellite (a specific model for atmospheric research), processed and made available on the Internet.

This system is integrated with the monitoring network of the Department of Environmental Development (SEDAM) of the State of Rondônia, which provides the information to the public through its website.

Climate monitoring will be conducted throughout the life of the Santo Antônio dam.

4. Hydrosedimentology

A study of the characteristics of sediment in the Madeira River after filling the reservoir. To conduct the study, in February 2011, Santo Antônio Energia installed a hydrometric monitoring system – including telemetry and 10 stations – that is linked to the National Water Agency’s (ANA) network.

Monitoring includes the following activities: deploying and operating the basic and supplementary water flow measuring system; measuring discharge of water and solids; a topobathymetric survey (using acoustic signals in the river) and collecting material from the river bed for particle size analysis (measuring the size of particles and occurrence percentages). The results of these studies generated a database that includes, among other information, a spatial characterization of the sediment and an analysis of its behavior in the reservoir and the Madeira River downstream of the dam.

Monitoring will be carried out continuously throughout the life of the Santo Antônio dam.

5. Prospecting Activity

The Monitoring Program for Mining Rights and Prospecting Activities, launched in 2011, seeks to support the miners whose activities were affected by the filling of the reservoir. Its target audience consists of workers who use three different methods of gold mining: dredges, ferries and manual prospecting. It also covers mining of other minerals in various stages of development.

In short, the measures taken include the identification of new areas with potential for mining after filling the reservoir, accompanied by variables such as the speed, flow and depth of the water. The program should be completed by late 2014, when manual prospectors will be presented with alternatives for maintaining their source of income. Also during that period the company expects to obtain a permanent ban on mining processes in the area affected by the reservoir from the DNPM (National Department of Mineral Production).


1. Hydrobiogeochemical

Assesses the effects of the mercury in the waters of the Madeira River on the environment and humans. This initiative is necessary due to the increased incidence of that heavy metal as a result of mining activities. Moreover, the Amazon, in general, is an environment with a high mercury content.

To evaluate the environmental impact, water samples are collected and analyzed quarterly. Currently, these samples are taken at 20 points on the Madeira River (upstream and downstream of the reservoir) and its tributaries. Monitored variables include abiotic matrices (water, particulate matter, bottom sediment and soil) and biotic matrices (plankton, macrophytes, benthic macroinvertebrates, reptiles and fish).

Regarding human beings, we evaluate the degree of exposure to mercury and its potential adverse effects on coastal communities. The monitoring includes analyses of mercury levels in hair, a social-nutritional questionnaire and tests based on case histories.

2. Limnology

Since November 2009, two probes have monitored 114 limnological parameters of the waters of the Madeira River in real time. All told, 768 pieces of data are generated daily – totaling 280,320 per year. In addition, Santo Antônio Energia has built a floating limnology lab to conduct water analyses and house the researchers. It also maintains 22 sampling stations on the Madeira River, its tributaries, Lake Cuniã, beaches and areas where water is obtained for human consumption.

3. Aquatic Macrophytes

Aquatic macrophytes (water plants) are monitored monthly in sites where water is collected and near resettlement areas and beaches. On islands and in creeks, it is collected every two months. Monitoring and removal are conducted as needed in view of the multiple uses of the water.

4. Plant Conservation

The Plant Conservation Program consists of three other sub-programs: Plant Retrieval; Replanting of Permanent Preservation Areas (APPs) and Plant Succession Monitoring.

Plant Retrieval (seeds, fruits, epiphytes and seedlings) occurred simultaneously with the removal of vegetation at the construction site and was carried out throughout the reservoir area between September 2009 and January 2012. It resulted in 560,249 seeds, 4,000 epiphytes and 90,000 seedlings. Santo Antônio Energia reintroduced 1,000 epiphytes and planted the seedlings grown in Permanent Preservation Areas (APPs).

Replanting of Permanent Preservation Areas began in 2010. All told, 450,000 seedlings were produced and 300,000 planted. This phase will be completed by 2015. By mid-2014, 1,244 hectares of APPs had been replanted.

Plant Succession Monitoring is a biannual survey of modules installed on the banks of reservoirs in order to evaluate the influence of groundwater levels on vegetation. All told, 26 hectares are checked according to the methodology of the PPBio (Biodiversity Research Program) of the INPA (National Institute for Amazonian Research). The program has studied 6,503 units: 658 species of trees, 30 species of herbaceous plants and 34 species of ferns.

5. Deforestation of Direct Sphere of Influence

The aim of this program is to maintain water quality, the landscape, and water quality suitable for bathing in the direct sphere of influence of the Santo Antônio dam (reservoir and vicinity). For that purposes, 12,000 hectares have been deforested along the reservoir.

6. Monitoring Deforestation and Wildlife Rescue Activities

Deforestation in the vicinity of the reservoir was preceded by planning (particularly Water Quality Modeling) and accompanied by the retrieval of local plant and animal life. For more details about these two last programs, see Plant Preservation and Wildlife Conservation.

7. Wildlife Conservation

The program can be divided into two areas: studying and rescuing wildlife. The studies began two years before filling the reservoir (January 2012), with the collection of animals, and ended two years later, after monitoring of the wildlife. Therefore it required a total of four years.

The effort to rescue wildlife began in 2008 and involved approximately 105,000 animals. It has been completed in the areas of the reservoir and is ongoing at specific points on the construction site. Captured animals were reintroduced into habitats similar to the prior ones, previously chosen and approved by IBAMA. Those which were vulnerable or showing locomotor difficulties were sent to the CETAS (Wild Animal Screening Center), a facility specifically prepared to receive and treat them. Housed on the campus of UNIR (Federal University at Rondônia), the CETAS is considered by IBAMA to be the most modern screening center in Brazil.

8. Ichthyofauna Conservation

Composed of six sub-programs covering different topics related to the indigenous fish population: ecology and biology, ichthyoplankton, rescuing fish, fishways, genetics and support for fishing.

The Fishway System (STP) is a semi-natural structure built to reproduce the original features of the Santo Antônio waterfall that allows fish to migrate during the spawning period. It opened in January 23, 2012, the date the reservoir was filled.

Another fish-related program is “Retrieving ichthyofauna during machine shutdowns and commissioning of the GUs.” These measures are taken during machine shutdowns through a specific structure designed to remove fish from the generator units, which speeds up the process and reduces stress and handling of fish.


1. Prehistoric and Historic Archeological Heritage

The Porto Velho area contains some of the most important archeological sites in Brazil. Carried out in partnership with the Federal University at Rondônia, this program allowed the identification of 58 sites, of which 43 are classified as pre-colonial and 15 as historic. They have also identified 157 isolated or discrete areas that are not considered archeological sites.

This program has retrieved 24 sites (10 on the construction site and 14 in the reservoir area) and restored more than 20,000 artifacts. All of them have been cataloged and stored in a permanent study center in Porto Velho.

The Prehistoric and Historic Archeological Heritage program also includes the following sub-programs:

1.1. Restoring the Madeira Mamoré Railway

Santo Antônio Energia has invested over BRL 16 million in restoring the Madeira Mamoré Railway, part of Porto Velho’s historic heritage. The project includes:

  • Refurbishing the Porto Velho railway station;
  • Building a deck and rest area in Railway Plaza;
  • Restoring and conserving the Turntable, Rotunda and Workshops;
  • Construction of the Indigenous Cultural Center;
  • Revitalization of the area near Santo Antônio Chapel.

1.2. Heritage Education

The aim is to encourage the city’s residents to learn more about the history of Porto Velho and restore its traditions. Begun in March 2009, its activities are divided into four types, according to the target audience: company members involved in the construction of the dam; the general public; municipal and state schools; and members of associations.

The highlights included training programs for cultural agents; voluntary garbage collection; tours of the Old Town in Porto Velho; training workshops; lectures and exhibitions in the city and at the hydroelectric plant construction site. In addition, educational materials were produced to provide support for teachers when conducting activities related to cultural heritage, particularly archeological and paleontological.

The program has benefited nearly 17,000 people, distributed as follows: 11 256 members of the Santo Antônio hydroelectric plant; 1,215 participants in programs for the general public; 4,115 students from 10 schools who took part in 120 workshops; 189 teachers who participated in 5 workshops.

2. Paleontological Heritage Preservation Program

This program enabled the identification and preservation of the first paleobotanical site in the Amazon, home to different types of fossil plants such as seeds, leaves and logs – some of them more than 43,000 years old. In addition, plants and animal fossils of great scientific interest were found (07 reptiles, 01 mammal and 02 fish).

The research began in September 2008 and was completed in February 2012. It consisted of a field survey of paleontological sites; monitoring; collection of fossils (biological and botanical) and sediment samples; laboratory analysis of the materials found and educational and paleontological activities.

All told, the program covered nine areas located on the construction site and the banks of the Santo Antônio dam reservoir. In the former case, monitoring was conducted throughout the sediment removal period and in the latter, prior to filling the reservoir. All materials found will be donated to UNIR – the Federal University at Rondônia.

3. Environmental Compensation

Santo Antônio Energia has undertaken to invest BRL 56 million in environmental compensation measures. Those funds will be used in Federal, State and Municipal Conservation Units.

4. Public Relations

An intense and ongoing process of Public Relations helps establish closer ties between Santo Antônio Energia and the Porto Velho community while providing support for adapting and improving the quality of life of the people affected by the reservoir.

This process includes a wide range of activities tailored to each target audience. The highlights are:

  • On-Call Programs and Meetings with the Affected Communities;
  • Providing support for all of the Santo Antônio dam’s Environmental Programs by producing teaching materials, holding lectures, community programs and informative campaigns, among other measures;
  • Demand Control Interaction Mechanisms (toll-free number and Personal Service);
  • Monthly newsletter “Santo Antônio Informa”;
  • Weekly Radio Program “Santo Antônio Energia and You”;
  • Guided Tours of the Santo Antônio Dam Construction Site.

5. Environmental Education

This program’s initiatives focus on the following main themes: Waste management; valuing culture and community relations; Social empowerment; Gender – “Echos of the Madeira and Fita” Project for Women; and the Tales of Value Project.

6. Public Health

Santo Antônio Energia has invested nearly BRL 100 million in improving public health services in the Porto Velho area, in projects carried out in partnership with the Municipal Department of Health and the State Health Department. The funds were used to build and revitalize hospitals and healthcare facilities, as well as programs to combat endemic diseases like malaria and dengue.

One of the main outcomes was a reduction in malaria cases: by 43% in 2013, compared with 2012 (that year, the rate had already fallen by 50%). The program tackled the problem on three fronts at once: early diagnosis, mosquito control and public awareness campaigns. It also involved the acquisition and installation of over 30,000 long-life insecticide-treated mosquito nets. Educational campaigns accompanied by leaflets and other materials raised public awareness. In addition to malaria, the program included tuberculosis, Hansen’s disease, HIV/AIDS and traffic education.

With regard to hospitals, Santo Antônio Energia’s efforts made it possible to add 254 new beds in Porto Velho – 120 for outpatients, 46 in the NICU (Ary-Pinheiro Base Hospital) and 88 at the Cosme e Damião Children’s Hospital. Another 167 beds were also created at Coacal Regional Hospital.

7. Support for Indigenous Communities

Santo Antônio Energia has made specific investments in the Karitiana and Karipuna villages as part of the Plan to Protect Indigenous Lands on the Madeira (PPTIM), approved by Brazil’s indigenous affairs agency, the FUNAI. Furthermore, the company proposes to carry out health, education, protection and production programs for these communities.

The Karitiana Village benefited from the refurbishing of four bridges and construction of a school, a housing facility and a FUNAI outpost, as well as other installations.

A school, a health-care facility and a FUNAI outpost were built in the Karipuna Village.

To combat malaria in these communities, long-life insecticide-treated mosquito nets were distributed to all the villages.

Santo Antônio Energia is also helping the FUNAI with a specific program involving so-called isolated Amerindians (individuals living in the rainforest who have no connection with the other communities).

8. Resettling Affected Communities

To meet the needs of residents who were resettled due to the construction of the reservoir, a total of 548 masonry houses were built in seven resettlement areas: Parque dos Buritis (187), Santa Rita (125), Teotônio (72), Morrinhos (50), Novo Engenho Velho (40), Riacho Azul (40), and São Domingos (34).

These areas were designed on the basis of criteria that focus on safety, maintaining economic activities and quality of life, decided on jointly with the new residents. They are equipped with infrastructure such as sewer systems, electricity and paved roads, as well as facilities including a community center, schools and a health-care center.

9. Support for Downstream Areas

Santo Antônio Energia has invested in the construction of two agroindustrial units. One of them is located in Calama, a rural community in greater Porto Velho. The other is in the town of Cujubim, near Rondônia’s state capital. The company has also organized training programs for local communities to enable them to work at these units and improve farm production.

10. Social Compensation

A number of initiatives have improved public services in Porto Velho and municipalities in the vicinity of the Santo Antônio dam. These projects focus on health, education, public safety, plans and projects, sanitation, and infrastructure:


Building the Women’s Center, Revamping and expanding the SAMU emergency medial service; Refurbishing and expanding the Medical Specialties Center; Renovation and expansion of Medical Specialties Center; Renovation and expansion of the Base Hospital; Completion of construction of Cacoal Regional Hospital; Renovation of the Mariana Health Center; Construction of the Santo Antônio Clinic; Renovation of the Ana Adelaide Emergency Unit; Renovation and expansion of two Basic Health Units (BHU): Cujubim Grande and São Carlos; Revitalization of 11 health-care centers; Renovation of the Casa Moradia Shelter; Construction of five Basic Health Units (BHU): Novo Engenho Velho, Distrito Aliança, Rio Garças, Ronaldo Aragão and Alfredo Silva. A total of 186 hospital beds were created in Porto Velho and 167 beds in Cacoal Regional Hospital.


Construction and expansion of 10 schools and availability of 119 classrooms due to construction or renovation. Schools built: Pingo de Gente; Novo Engenho Velho; Aponiã; Moranguinho (COHAB Floresta); São Francisco; Santo Antônio (after demolishing the old building). Schools renovated and/or expanded: Joaquim Vicente Rondon (PVH); Joaquim Vicente Rondon (Porto Velho); Manoel Aparício; Joaquim Vicente Rondon (Jacy-Paraná); Cora Coralina and Quadra (Jacy-Paraná).

Public Safety:

Equipment for the Military Fire Brigade of Rondônia; Installation of CCTV for police video monitoring in Porto Velho; Equipment for the Environmental Police Battalion.

Plans and Projects:

Developed the following plans for the City of Porto Velho: Tourism; Modernized Administration; Roadways and Urban Mobility; Geoprocessing.


Development of an environmental study and report (EIA-RIMA) for the Porto Velho landfill and acquisition of land to build the landfill and retrieve archeological artifacts.


Transfer of funds to match the city’s funding for the construction of buildings for public housing. In Jacy-Paraná, Santo Antônio Energia has invested in Construction of the Administrative Center; Construction of the City Park; Paving and Drainage Systems for 2km of streets; Street Cleaning; Cleaning and Construction of the Cemetery Chapel.

11. Program to Restore Affected Infrastructure

The goal of this program was to ensure the full recovery of the infrastructure impacted by the filling of the reservoir. Measures taken ensured that vehicles could continue to use route BR-364, the continued operation of Eletronorte’s 230-kV transmission line and access to farms in the surrounding area. Santo Antônio Energia has built or made improvements on 13 local roads.

All measures taken were preceded by surveying and hydraulic studies of the reservoir area; project design for the BR-364; survey and registration of local roads and project design to protect the bases of the towers of transmission lines. In the case of road works, the plans were approved by the DNIT (National Department of Transport Infrastructure). In the case of the transmission line, the plan was approved by Eletronorte.

12. Environmental Plan for Conservation and Use of the Reservoir Area

Santo Antônio Energia is responsible for managing a 92,189.221-ha area (about 922 km²) around the Santo Antônio dam reservoir – including the lake, backwaters, resettlement areas and the APP (Permanent Preservation Area). The goal is to regulate the use and occupation of the area in order to preserve and/or restore its natural and built heritage.

Therefore, the Environmental Plan for Conservation and Use of the Reservoir Area involves a range of measures including monitoring, prevention and rectification, determined and implemented through a Social-Heritage Management Program. In keeping with the company’s aim of becoming an integral part of the community, the uses and occupation of those areas were determined jointly with the local community through meetings and workshops held from 2009 to 2011. This part of the program also involved joint efforts and networking with various groups to improve the projects being carried out.

13. Support Program for Recreation and Tourism

The resettlement of Vila Nova de Teotônio and Parque dos Buritis, both upstream of the dam, was carried out with an eye to their economic potential: tourism and recreation, respectively. Therefore, from January 2012 to May 2014, Santo Antônio Energia was responsible for drawing up action plans and enabling these two communities to pursue those activities in order to create jobs and sources of income for their residents.

Also, the Consolidated Tourism and Recreation Plans of the Jacy Paraná District and Vila Nova de Teotônio were presented to the municipal and state tourism departments (Semdestur and Sethur). This initiative was supplemented by the distribution of 10,000 leaflets in Porto Velho hotels.


1. Environmental Program for Construction

This program focuses on the infrastructure and physical characteristics of the jobsite to improve environmental and safety conditions and workers’ comfort, and reduce the impact on local communities. It began in September 2008 and will end in 2016 when construction of the hydroelectric plant is completed.

Supervision, control and monitoring cover the following aspects: air quality, emissions, water and wastewater quality and management of waste produced during all phases of construction and operations.

Its main results include:

  • Jobsite location: occupying areas that have already been degraded and avoiding fragile and preserved areas;
  • Arranging the facilities to ensure more safety and comfort for the workers and reduce impacts on local communities;
  • Introducing recyclable waste collection;
  • Separate disposal of hazardous waste;
  • Reclamation of degraded areas;
  • Introduction of a sanitation system comprised of a sewage treatment plant (ETE) and water treatment plant (ETA) as well as landfills designed with the use of low-carbon technologies.

2. Environmental Management System (SGA)

The Environmental Management System aims to ensure the practical application of all ISO 14001 guidelines (the international standard for environmental management). Therefore, it has been part of the decision-making processes since the start of construction in 2008. It is cross-cutting, involving all the activities at the construction site. It also establishes a course of action for all participants during the construction phase. As of 2014, the Environmental Management System is being transformed into the Consolidated Management System (SGI), which will act as channel that consolidates processes, procedures and practices for the implementation of a unified policy on the areas of Health, Safety and Environment. Through practical and educational initiatives, the SGI will ensure the joint application of the ISO 9001 (quality); 14001 (environment) and OHSAS 18001 (workplace health and safety) standards. This will bolster the sustainable development status assigned to the Santo Antônio hydroelectric plant from the start.

3. Fish-Breeding Laboratory

Taking care of fish is an ongoing practice at the Santo Antônio hydroelectric plant (for more details see Ichthyofauna Conservation). In this area, the most recent initiative is the fish-breeding laboratory, which, as its name indicates, has the main objective to helping maintain the population of the migratory species living within its sphere of influence, with special focus on large catfish (fingerlings will not be bred for release or restocking).

Located inside the plant, the laboratory was designed on the basis of innovative premises, such as the race-ways system (running water tanks) for maintenance and fattening. It also has a recirculation and filtration system that reduces the amount of water needed to replenish the tanks. Fish maintenance is provided by the installation of specific equipment to produce food and monitor the conditions and parameters for the water tanks and filters.

The work is done through experiments, procedures, techniques and technologies for assessing the behavior of fish species and determining how best to enable them to migrate. The list of measures taken includes the development of operational protocols for maintenance and reproduction in captivity; hormonally induced maturation of fish / females; egg / sperm collection; fertilization; fingerling fattening and maintenance.

The Fish Reproduction Laboratory is part of the Center for Conservation and Research on Migratory Fish and has the support of the Fishway System Monitoring subprogram.

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