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Friday, July 2, 1999 Published at 00:13 GMT 01:13 UK


World: Americas

Dam bust for the environment

The waters will not be held back any longer

Construction workers have begun the demolition of a 162-year-old dam under a federal order to protect the environment.

Church bells tolled and hundreds of people applauded as the first torrent of water burst through.

The Edwards Dam on the Kennebec River, in Augusta, Maine, has been hailed by environmentalists as the first dam in the country to be breached against the owner's wishes.


[ image: Workers watch as the Edwards Dam is breached]
Workers watch as the Edwards Dam is breached
Environmentalists hope the federally-ordered demolition - to be completed by mid-November - will pave the way for the return of several species of fish to their natural spawning grounds in America's northeastern-most state.

"This is the beginning of a new chapter in river fisheries management," said US Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt from a cliff along the edge of the river.

"This has fixated the attention of river communities across the nation," he said.

The dam is about 40 miles from the sea.

Congress passed a law in 1986 requiring the balancing of the needs of power generation and environmental protection when hydroelectric dams are licensed



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