Officials still searching for answers after dam failure in central Vietnam

Officials are still trying to determine what caused a dam to collapse at the 8-MW Dak Rong 3 hydroelectric plant earlier this month, HydroWorld.com has learned.

The 25-meter-long by 6-meter-high dam, only recently completed by Truong Son Hydropower JSC, suffered a 20-meter-long breach that has already caused more than US$1 million in damage to the structure and surrounding fields.

Truong Son says the failure was caused while it was experimenting with water storage and that the torrential rains caused by Typhoon Gaemi overwhelmed the dam.

However, officials from the local governing group say evidence of substandard construction work has been found in the debris.

The Quang Tri Province People's Committee Secretariat alleges that much of the remaining work includes weak concrete that can be dislodged by hand, substandard rebar, and construction techniques that could have ultimately led to the dam's collapse.

The group also says that Truong Son was storing water without making it known to the public, potentially endangering life and property in the areas downstream.

Mai Van Hue, chairman of Tuong Son's board of directors, says the company is repairing the damaged portion of the dam but that those repairs could take several months since it is Vietnam's rainy season.

The plant had only been in operation for several weeks before the collapse.

HydroWorld.com reported in September that the safety of another of Vietnam's dams was also in question as earthquakes have been causing concern for residents living near the 190-MW Song Tranh 2 hydropower complex in the Quang Nam Province.

In international Dam Safety news, the Canadian Dam Association is seeking feedback on its dam safety guidelines.

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