Dam cracks pile on anxiety for central Vietnam residents

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Cracks have begun to appear in a hydropower dam in the central province of Quang Nam, worrying residents who have already been under stress since the end of 2010 because of tremors caused by the dam, the VnExpress newswire reported Monday.

According to the newswire, several days ago, residents of Bac Tra My District discovered cracks in the nearby Song Tranh 2 hydropower dam. Four of them are big enough for water to leak out like "streams."

Nguyen Kim Son, deputy secretary of Bac Tra My District's Party Unit, told VnExpress that the cracks were "unusual" and worrisome, especially given that they have appeared while the district is still experiencing tremors that began in 2010.

Local authorities as well as residents downstream the dam were worried, Son added.

Tran Anh Tuan, vice chairman of the Bac Tra My People's Committee, also said that since the Vietnam Academy of Science Technology concluded that the dam has caused the minor quakes along with underground explosions last December, no agency has posted observation stations so far to warn locals about risks.

Meanwhile, Tran Van Hai, chief of the Song Tranh 2 plant's management board, said the cracks which appeared in November last year are not related to the tremors.

Water was leaking through the cracks at 30 liters per second, which is allowable in accordance with its design and does not pose any danger, Hai said.

Hai said the management board has assigned workers to fix the cracks.


Scientists blame hydropower plant for tremors in central Vietnam

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In response to Tuan's concerns about the lack of observation stations, Hai said they have signed a US$100,000-plus contract to buy devices to observe the tremors, measure temperatures and so on from the US and Canada. 

The Song Tranh 2 hydropower plant was built with an investment of more than VND4.15 trillion (US$197.53 million). It started operating in December 2010 with an expected output of 190 megawatts.

Its reservoir is the largest in the central region with a capacity of some 730 million cubic meters, the VnExpress report said.

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