Vietnam's minister of industry and trade has denied suspicions that leakage is putting one of the country's major hydropower dams in the central province of Quang Nam at risk.
Minister Vu Huy Hoang made the statement at the National Assembly sitting Thursday when asked about leaks found at the Song Tranh 2 hydropower dam in March that have since raised concerns among scientists and public over the safety of the structure.
According to Hoang, the incident was "rare," and the leaking rate of 75 liters per second is higher than regulated, but there is no basis on which to say that the dam is unsafe.
If the dam were found unsafe after the leaks are fixed, the ministry would be "determined" to suspend operations there, he stressed.
Meanwhile, Trinh Dinh Dung, minister of construction, said: "I personally reassure you that the Song Tranh 2 dam is safe," adding that after repairs on the leaks are completed, a Swiss consultancy company will inspect the site.
Also at the meeting, Hoang reported that his ministry had halted 52 small hydropower plant projects during its review of the effects such plants were having on local environments and lives.
Since it opened in December 2010, Song Tranh 2 has caused anxiety among locals in Quang Nam as minor earthquakes in the area have been labeled by officials and scientists as being caused by the dam's construction.
In March local people found cracks in the damns walls through which water was leaking. They worried the leaks were related to the tremors.
However, the project's main investor, Hydropower Plant Management Board 3, a member of the state utility Electricity of Vietnam, and other agencies have continued to downplay the problems. They initially 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.
The project's investor has since then worked on fixing the problems.
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.