HA NOI — The Institute of Geophysics decided to build earthquake warning systems around the Song Tranh 2 Hydro-power Plant in the central province of Quang Nam to assess possible impacts of ongoing tremors on the leaking dam.
The dam is the largest of its kind in central Viet Nam. Concerns for its safety were brought up after a recent tour of the facilities by geophysicists. Continual minor earthquakes have been reported in the region in the last year, said Le Huy Minh, the institute's deputy director.
"These stations will be important in identifying fault lines, where earthquakes are likely to take place. They will also play a vital role in the possible implications seismic activity on the dam," he said.
Leakage from the 96 metre-high dam, built as part of the hydro-power system that came into operation in January, 2011, has significantly reduced from 30 litres per second, recorded in February and early March, according to chairman of Bac Tra My District People's Committee Dang Phong.
The Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) admitted that the leakage was unusual, and a number of experts questioned the quality of the dam's construction. The entire reservoir is roughly 43 times the size of Ha Noi's West Lake.
Phong said that, even though tremors have been recorded near the $249-million plant, they are not as major as the record measured of March 6, which hit 3.4 on the Richter scale.
He is hopeful that warning systems will ease worries. "We hope that the scientist's work will show there is no danger to the dam, its safety system or the surrounding areas," he said.
Minh said that the recent tremors in the vicinity could be attributed to the operations of the dam itself, adding that it was a common occurrence in areas where large man-made reservoirs have been built.
Quang Nam is said to be located on an active geological area, but much less prone to quakes than other parts of Viet Nam, especially the mountainous regions of the north-west, Nghe An, or the coastal region stretching from Ba Ria to Vung Tau.
Previously MoIT did not consider the tremors a safety risk to the dam.
"This is a normal occurrence which happens during the construction of hydro-power dams," said Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Hoang Quoc Vuong.
Similar tremors have been recorded near the Hoa Binh hydro-power plant, constructed in the north in 1989, but they subsided within five years of construction, he said. — VNS