Authorities in the central province of Quang Nam plan to review all its 43 hydropower dams as the largest one continues to worry residents with its ongoing leaking problem, the VnExpress newswire reported Tuesday.
The report quoted Nguyen Thanh Quang, director of the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, as saying inspection teams will be sent to check the dams next month to suggest risk minimizing measures.
Local authorities are especially concerned about the dams' safety this year, given the leaking problem at the Song Tranh 2, said Nguyen Minh Tuan, chief of Quang Nam Steering Committee on Floods and Storms Prevention's office.
He demanded that the investor of the dam in Bac Tra My District, Hydropower Plant Management Board 3, strictly confirm to procedures for releasing water at the "problematic" dam to decrease possible damage to downstream areas.
Local authorities have also asked the investor, which belongs to the state utility Electricity of Vietnam (EVN), to make flood prevention plans and cooperate with them in informing locals of the dam's water discharges so the latter can make preparations.
A course of actions for the worst case scenario at the leaking dam also needs to be introduced into the province's program of flood and storm prevention, Tuan said.
Meanwhile, Tran Anh Tuan, vice chairman of Bac Tra My District, said it is necessary to seek solutions to the dam's possible collapse, adding that the investor needs to invite experts to study the situation and propose scientific solutions to guarantee the dam's safety.
Since last week Bac Tra My residents have voiced their concerns over cracks in the dam, saying it was probably related to the tremors that have been induced by the dam since 2010. They are also worried about water leaking through the cracks.
EVN, however, has downplayed the problem.
On Monday, the power utility issued a press release in which it reiterated its claim that water was not leaking, but that several places around the dam's heat slits were soaked, VnExpress reported.
It blamed the problem on the dam's system of collecting excessive water, saying that the system had failed to function well as expected.
Since the problem was detected, workers have been fixing it and so far the soaking has decreased by up to 80 percent, EVN said.
Also in the press release, the corporation also said minor quakes induced by the dam are lower in intensity than allowed in its design, stressing that they do not affect the dam's safety or quality. The aftershocks will decrease gradually, it said.
EVN has also said that it is cooperating with the Institute of Earth Physics to observe the quakes more closely and come up with more measures to address the soaking.
However, EVN's claims and assertions have not assuaged the fears and concerns of residents as well as district authorities.
"We can't underestimate a leaking problem at a hydropower dam," Dang Phong, chairman of Bac Tra My District, told VnEpress in response to EVN's latest press release.
"Agencies need to consult the opinions of experts and scientists to find the best solutions," he said.
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. It began operating in December 2010 with an expected output of 190 megawatts.