Nov 11, 2012

Vietnam - Half nation’s hydropower dams unchecked

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VietNamNet Bridge – As of last week 33 out of the 66 hydropower dams subject to periodic inspections had not been checked, including seven large-scale dams.

According to a report that the Ministry of Industry and Trade submitted to the National Assembly on Monday, 22 out of the 66 hydropower dams have been checked and found to be safe, while seven others are under inspection.

However, 33 hydropower dams have yet to be examined as required, including seven dams with capacity of over 30MW each and 30 dams with capacity of less than 30MW each.

This delay is ascribed to the lack of capable inspectors. Only 19 out of the 82 units registered for inspection are qualified by the Ministry of Construction.

The average time for checking a dam is 5-6 months after the inspection contract is signed.

Besides, sanctions against violations of dam safety are insufficient.

Moreover, the cost of dam inspections is high. For example, the inspection of Tuyen Quang dam costs VND1.87 billion, Srepok 3 dam VND1.5 billion and Buon Tua Srah dam VND1.6 billion. Therefore, dam owners hesitate to carry out checks.

The trade ministry is compiling additional regulations on administrative sanctions for dam safety management, which will be submitted to the Government in January.

Regarding the case of Song Tranh 2 hydropower dam, the report says it is not the time to examine the dam yet.

Nevertheless, after handling water leaks and tremors, the State Appraisal and Acceptance Council hired Swiss firm AF-Colenco to evaluate the dam. The independent advisor stated that the dam remained safe and stable.

By the end of August, local governments had removed 107 hydropower projects with total registered capacity of 605.2MW from their planning and stopped considering adding to the planning 156 locations with potential capacity of around 335MW.

As such, there are now 1,114 hydropower projects left with total capacity of over 25,300MW. Among those, 1,004 projects are of small and medium scale.

The trade ministry said the projects yet to get underway would be further inspected in order to eliminate the projects with low efficiency or negative impacts on the environment and society.

The projects with capacity of less than 3MW each will be temporarily halted until the end of 2015. Thus, the number of hydropower projects will continue to fall in the future.


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