Vietnam's largest hydropower dam allegedly causes more earthquakes

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Residents of Quang Nam Province look at the Song Tranh 2 hydropower dam, which has caused them various worries due to its leaks and the earthquakes since being completed in 2010.

Local residents in the central province of Quang Nam were unable to sleep Monday night as earthquakes caused by the notorious Song Tranh 2 hydropower dam rocked the area once again.

There were four quakes in total between 9 and 10:30 pm, locals reported.

They said each quake lasted for more than two minutes, causing furniture to fall, which worried residents too much to remain indoors.

Dang Phong, chairman of Bac Tra My District, said the strongest of the quakes, which measured 4.2 on the Richter Scale, was the strongest so far among those which have been caused by the country's largest dam.

People in the district beneath the dam have experienced earthquakes since late 2010 with magnitudes between 3.5 and 4 on the Richter scale, which have led to underground explosions.

Scientists said water from the reservoir is being absorbed into earthquake faults in the area and that is what is causing the seismic activity and explosions, which can be easily heard as they occur just below the earth's surface.

They said that while the quakes do not pose a significant danger to the dam, if they reach a magnitude of 5 on the Richter scale, local houses would collapse.

Some quakes had also occurred in April, after the dam had developed cracks and leaked water in March.

Quang Nam government announced on August 30 that the leaking problem had been completely fixed.

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

The plant made headlines in November 2011, along with other hydropower plants in the region, for worsening floods that killed 24 people. The plant was criticized for releasing excess water from their reservoirs without giving local residents enough advanced notice.

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