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Lao Gov’t Urges Dam Operators To Ensure Safety Measures

The Lao Ministry of Energy and Mines, issued a notice, instructing operators of hydro-power dams in Laos, to ensure that safety measures and emergency plans are in place and being complied with.

Safety awareness is especially important during the rainy season, when reservoirs are full to capacity and the most strain is placed on dam walls, local daily Vientiane Times reported today.

The warning was issued after the ministry carried out inspections and found that several hydro-power plants were storing substantial quantities of water, and advised all dam operators to pay extra attention to water management, dam safety, and emergency plans.

Operations managers should monitor the condition of all structures and floodgates, which must be in good working order and ready for use.

Requests for the release of water must be submitted to the Department of Energy Policy and Planning, at least seven days before the discharge is planned.

In addition, emergency plans must be up to date and dam operators should remain in full communication with local authorities and communities living downstream, so that they are aware of, and well prepared for any possible incident.

Furthermore, equipment and vehicles must be included in the emergency plans, so they are ready for use in the event of an unexpected incident. The owners and developers of hydro-power plants have repeatedly been instructed to comply with safety guidelines and monitor the safety of dams, especially through visual inspections and instrument monitoring.

The Ministry of Energy and Mines has been working to strengthen management, to ensure sustainable development of hydro-power, in the wake of the disastrous collapse of a dam in the southern Attapeu province in 2018.

The collapse of the dam at the Xe-Pian Xe-Namnoy hydro-power plant, 560 km south-east of the capital Vientiane, caused a flash flood that wiped out five villages downstream, leaving more than 4,000 people homeless. Several other villages and their inhabitants were also affected.

Earlier this month, the National Assembly approved a new law on dam safety, which sets out specific guidelines and measures, to regulate the construction and operation of hydro-power plants in Laos.

The new law will ensure that dams are built in compliance with strict standards, and that they are closely monitored to maintain safety.–

Source: NAM News Network