The Lao government will begin inspecting the safety standards applied to the construction of all hydropower dams in Laos next year in a bid to prevent further accidents.
Lao Minister of Energy and Mines Khammany Inthirath told the National Assembly that inspection teams have completed checks on 20 dams with another 50 yet to be carried out, and the teams plan to finish their work at all dams by 2021.
A report already set up a week ago the necessity to review safety standards at the nation’s many hydropower plants, implementing that safety rules have not always been carefully implemented.
“We will carry out inspections to examine the safety standards applied to the construction of all dams in Laos from 2019 to 2020,” The report quoted Deputy Minister of Energy and Mines Sinnava Souphanouvong as saying.
The inspections will cover design and construction along with the administration of sustainable production and safety at all hydropower dams.
The Ministry of Energy and Mines is working with foreign experts and international organizations to keep a tab on the functioning of hydropower dams across the country, local daily Vientiane Times reported on Tuesday.
The ministry has decided to carry out periodic checks to ensure that the highest standards are being maintained at the dams as required by law. The targeted dams include those that are operating and also others under construction.
The inspections come after the country witnessed collapses of two dams in the past two years. A small dam, the Nam Ao hydropower plant in Xieng Khuang province, collapsed last year and a saddle dam at the Xe Pian-Xe Namnoy hydropower plant collapsed on July 23 in Sanamxay district, Attapeu province.
Since the last accident which officially killed 40 people while 98 were considered as missing and 6,600 others were displaced (figures at the end of September), the Lao government recently suspended the consideration of new hydropower projects until it has reviewed safety standards, as well as its dam development strategy and plans for the future.
The minister will select investors and developers more carefully in the future, checking expertise of investors, the technology and skills on offer and the funds at their disposal before issuing licences.