Fix central Vietnam dam soaks by August or stop storing water, province orders

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Authorities in the central province of Quang Nam Thursday asked the state utility Electricity of Vietnam to fix the soaking problem at a hydropower dam by August 30, failing which it will be banned from storing water in its reservoir.

In its letter to EVN, the Quang Nam People's Committee advised the company to order its member, Hydropower Plant Management Board 3, to cooperate with the committee on flood and storm prevention work, and make plans to guarantee the safety of the troubled Song Tranh 2 dam during this year's flooding season.

EVN was also asked to have the dam's quality tested and publicize the results through the media as well as report them to local authorities.

As per the order, the state power utility has to invest in devices observing earthquakes in Bac Tra My District, where the dam is located. The dam has induced tremors in the district since it began operations in December 2010.

In the meantime, a report on VnExpress Wednesday quoted Nguyen Khac Tho, deputy chief of the General Department of Energy under the Ministry of Industry and Trade, as saying that the soaking rate at the dam has decreased by 98 percent and is now recorded at 1.5 liters per second.

EVN has completed the first step of its plan to fix the problem, Tho said, adding that they have yet to detect any unusual cracks on the dam as feared by local people.

In March, residents of Bac Tra My found cracks in the dam through which water was leaking. The provincial authorities then sent letters to related ministries to ask for help in identifying if the cracks were related to the tremors.

However, since then, the agencies and the project's investor have kept downplaying the problem. They said there were no cracks and water was not leaking through cracks but through the dam's heat slits due to problems with its anti-soaking system.

With an investment of more than VND4.15 trillion (US$197.53 million), the Song Tranh 2 Hydropower Plant boasts the largest reservoir in the central region with a capacity of some 730 million cubic meters. Its output is expected at 190 megawatts.

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