September 20, 2021, 11:49 pm

Lowlands residents live in constant fear of hydropower dam collapse

(15:12:05 PM 11/08/2014)
( - Many legal documents and instructions on the standard process of operating hydropower water reservoirs have been released, but these represent no assurance to the people who live in the lowlands.
Nguyen Ngoc Hoi, deputy chair of the Thanh Hoa provincial People’s Committee, at a meeting at the Ministry of Industry and Trade several days ago, urged relevant agencies to check the management and the operation of hydropower plants, or “lowlands people would suffer from floods”.
He said he was worried about the Hua Na and Cua Dat hydropower plants because the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment (MONRE) still has not set up a procedure for operating the water reservoirs.
“If the plants cannot regulate the water discharge properly, massive floods (a combination of natural floods and floods caused by water discharge) will inundate six to seven districts of Thanh Hoa province, where there are several million people,” he said.
Thanh Hoa’s people have every reason to worry. Some days ago, the small dyke surrounding the main dyke system at the Krei 2 dam in Gia Lai province broke, damaging hundreds of hectares of crops and assets of the residents in the project area, worth hundreds of billions of dong.
Dang Huy Cuong, head of the Electricity Regulatory Uni,  said some owners of hydropower plants, especially the small ones with the capacity of less than 30 MW, ignore the regulations and skip necessary steps in managing water reservoirs, which could cause immeasurable consequences.
According to Cuong, the small power plants’ investors do not follow the regulations to ensure the dams’ safe operation because they have encountered financial difficulties.
Cuong said the high investment rate, the changeable weather, difficult terrain conditions and the exhausted watershed forests have all led to the low electricity output. The power generation cannot bring the expected profits.
The chair of the Lam Dong provincial People’s Committee, Nguyen Xuan Tien, confirmed that the limited financial capability of the investors makes things difficult for them to follow regulations on safe operations.
“They (the investors) sometimes have to move heaven and earth to borrow money to pay to people,” he said. “Therefore, it is understandable why they do not spend money on the items to follow the standard operation process.”
Experts pointed out that in order to ensure the safety of the dams, hydropower plant owners have to strictly follow the inter-reservoir operation process. Since there are many hydropower works on the same rivers, it would be problematic if the plants discharge water at the same time or at unreasonable times, thus causing heavy floods.
However, to date, only six inter-reservoir operation processes out of the 11 processes for 11 river valleys have been set up.
According to Chau Tran Vinh, deputy director of the Water Resource Agency, MONRE has drawn up and submitted to the government 10 processes. The process for the Dong Nai river system has not been submitted.
In the latest news, the Ministry of Industry and Trade has removed another 12 hydropower projects from the power plant development program, raising the total number of rejected projects to 415.
Thien Nhien

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