Inspections Reveal Serious Flaws at 11 Bulgarian Dams

Domestic | February 15, 2012, Wednesday // 18:08|  views

Energy Minister Traicho Traikov has assured that the inspections of 600 potentially dangerous dams will be wrapped up by Monday. Photo by BGES

The ongoing inspection of the condition of dams located all over Bulgaria has so far identified serious problems at 11 facilities of a total of 140 checked, according to Traicho Traikov, Minister of Economy, Energy and Tourism.

Speaking after a meeting with district governors on Wednesday, Traikov explained that the problematic dams were located in five districts - one in Kardzhali, one in Smolyan, two in Montana, three in Pazardzhik and three in Sliven.

Like the Elena dam, which was subjected to a controlled draining on Monday over a risk of failure, the majority of the faulty reservoirs have non-functioning spillways and release gates, Mihail Andonov, CEO of the national power grid operator NEK, concluded.

He warned that the release gates of the dams needed urgent repairs and the facilities had to be equipped with emergency gates.

Last week NEK's Dams and Cascades company assumed responsibility for monitoring the technical condition of all of the nearly 3000 dams and micro-dams located all over Bulgaria.

The Energy Minister went on to explain that the funding for the urgent repair works would be provided from the disaster management budget of the Interior Ministry because the municipalities would be hard-pressed to find the money.

Traikov noted that the total cost of the overhaul activities was still unclear.

Over the next day or two, experts from the Dams and Cascades state-owned company, the Energoproekt company and the University of Architecture, Civil Engineering and Geodesy in Sofia will draft concrete engineering recommendations for the 11 dangerous dams, while the district governors will supervise the implementation of the measures.

In Andonov's words, the neglected dams are a threat both to the population living in the nearby areas and the local infrastructure like the railway station in Pazardzhik.

Traikov said that all of the faulty dams were being used for irrigation and assured that they would be operational in a month or two, when the high water from the snow melt subsides.

Andonov explained that hydropower centrals downstream of the Arda River were working full steam to use up some of the water in the brimfull reservoirs.

The Energy Minister vowed that the inspection of the remaining part of the nearly 600 potentially dangerous dams would be wrapped up by Monday.

The checks would also include other facilities estimated as high-risk by the mayors and district governors, Traikov remarked.

The widespread dam inspections were triggered by a dam wall failure last week, which caused massive flooding in southern Bulgarian villages and took 10 victims.

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Tags: Energy and Economy Minister, Traicho Traikov, dam failure, dam wall, Southern Bulgaria, NEK, hydro-power plant, Arda, flooding, repairs, Mihail Andonov


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