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Laos government inspecting all dams, shelving new hydro projects

Tanutam Thawan

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PHOTO: EJAtlas

The Laos government is announcing a full examination of safety standards applied to the construction of hydropower dams across the country. This follows the avoidable deadly disaster when a dam in the southern Attapeu province breached spilling millions of cubic litres of deadly floodwater downstream.

Vientiane Times is reporting that the Laos cabinet made the announcement shortly after its two-day extraordinary meeting ended yesterday.

The meeting was chaired by the Laos PM Thongloun Sisoulith. The meeting heard reports on the progress in dealing with the aftermath of the disaster in Sanamxay district. The meeting also agreed to carry out inspections into all dams – those that are complete and the ones where construction is still underway.

“The country’s Ministry of Energy and Mines will work with the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Ministry of Science and Technology and international experts in carrying out the inspections.”

The Laos government is also suspending any new investment in its hydroelectricity projects so it has time to review a longer-term development strategy and plans.

A committee has been tasked with spearheading the investigation into reasons for the collapse of saddle dam D, one of five auxiliary dams at the Xe-Pian Xe-Namnoy hydropower project. The failure of the dam on July 23 flooded 13 villages in Sanamxay district, killing at least 34 people (as of August 6) while 100 villagers are still missing. Thousands have been left homeless.

The committee is also speaking to representatives of the governments of the South Korea and Thailand, whose companies were stakeholders in the Xe-Pian Xe-Namnoy hydropower project, to provide consultation and observe the investigation process.

The cabinet expressed heartfelt gratitude to all Lao people, all sectors, friendly countries and international organisations for extending invaluable assistance and support for the relief, search and rescue mission.

SOURCE: Vientiane Times, Souksakhone Vaenkeo

 

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