Investor ordered to fix leaks in Vietnam dam by mid-April

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The Ministry of Industry and Trade asked Wednesday that the investor of a dam in the central province of Quang Nam thoroughly fix headline grabbing leaks by April 15.

The ministry made the order at a press conference that day in Hanoi, during which representatives from related agencies continued to downplay the soaking problem at the Song Tranh 2 hydropower dam, invested by the state utility Electricity of Vietnam, in Bac Tra My District.

According to the ministry, water leaks through the dam's heat slits due to problems with its anti-soaking system, which are not supposed to occur under its design.

Nguyen Tai Son, director general of the Power Engineering Consulting Joint Stock Company 1, which acted as the project's consultant, said the problems are "defects" that need fixing.

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They do not, however, affect the dam's safety, because compared to the world's standards, the soaking rate of 30 liters per second is typical, he stressed.

But, since water is mainly leaking from the dam's heat slits, it is abnormal to some extent, according to Son.

"It will probably takes a couple of months to fix the problem, but it will not affect the dam's stability," he said.

Also at the conference, the ministry said the tremors caused by Song Tranh 2 since it started operating in December 2010, are normal and will decrease gradually within five years.

Moreover, the maximum intensity recorded of the minor quakes only registered 3.3 on the Richter scale, while the dam was designed to withstand an earthquakes up to 5.5 in magnitude, according to the ministry.

When asked who will be held responsible in case incidents happen, Le Quang Hung, chief of the state committee on monitoring public works, said the investor and the contractor are supposed to repair problems that take place in the course of the dam's operation.

Meanwhile, Hoang Quoc Vuong, deputy minister of industry and trade, said EVN needs to take responsibility for the dam's quality, but specific responsibilities of related agencies must also be clarified.

"When saying the dam is safe and stable, we have to be responsible for our statements," Vuong said.

However, he stressed they are guaranteeing "the highest safety" not "absolute safety," because no one can be sure about absolute safety,

In response to the agencies' conclusions, Dinh Van Thu, vice chairman of Quang Nam's People's Committee, said local authorities and people are still concerned about the Song Tranh 2 dam's leaks and tremors, wondering if they are related.

He said it is necessary to review the whole work to have more effective solutions to the problems. 

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