The South China Morning Post
Toh Han Shih
June 20, 2011
Some workers on Malaysia's biggest dam, due to open next year, claim
concrete is being diluted with water - and passing quality tests
Sinohydro, China's biggest dam builder, has rejected accusations it used
unsafe construction methods to build Malaysia's Bakun dam, but
acknowledges its construction processes did not fully adhere to correct
Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have alleged that under the watch
of Sinohydro, a Chinese state-owned enterprise, improper construction
practices in the dam were widespread and pose concerns for its future
Malaysia-China Hydro, a joint venture between Sinohydro and Malaysian
firm Sime Engineering, is the biggest contractor engaged in building the
dam, which will be Malaysia's largest when it is completed next year.
Writing in the online Sarawak Report, environmental journalist Clare
Rewcastle alleged the practice of adding excessive water to cement,
regarded as unsafe by the construction industry, was endemic in the
building of the dam.
The online report includes photos and a video of water being injected
via a hose into cement mixers before being used in the dam. It also
included a photo of a document indicating that a batch of concrete was
rejected by quality controllers because too much water had been added
into the cement.
"It is well-known that the Chinese contractors were under extreme
pressure from the Malaysian government during the period up to 2009 to
get the dam finished as quickly and cheaply as possible, after a series
of delays and cost overruns," the Sarawak Report said.
Building of the dam started in 1996 but was plagued by many delays,
including changes of ownership, contractors and management.
"It's all supposition," a Sinohydro spokeswoman was quoted saying after
seeing the video and photos. "The pictures show workers washing the silo
of the machine. We can admit the cleaning process is not correct and
doesn't follow instructions," she said.
The rejection of a batch of concrete because water was introduced could
be proof that quality control was functioning, she said. The Sarawak
Report cited an unnamed quality controller at the project who said many
batches of cement with excessive water passed quality control tests
because the measures were inadequate.
The quality controller said he often reported these problems to his
superiors at Sinohydro, but got little response or support from them.
"I used to raise this issue and nobody took any notice of it. They would
just say `okay, let it go, and warn them not to do it next time'. If I
found them adding water to the concrete I would reject it as
substandard, but I could not be everywhere all the time and I know it
was happening when I was not there," he said.
"For years Sinohydro and the contractors have refused to take adequate
action in response to official complaints of under-resourced quality
controllers at Bakun," the article in the Sarawak Report noted.
Raymond Abin, national co-ordinator of the Sarawak Conservation Alliance
for the Natural Environment, said: "The unsafe practices outlined by the
Sarawak Report are true. The group is fighting dam construction in
Sarawak, one of two Malaysian states on the island of Borneo."
"The source of its information is reliable as the information came from
workers previously involved in engineering work on the construction of
the Bakun dam. Only those workers who worked on-site knew the problem.
The public has no access to the project site because it is strictly
guarded," Abin said.
Responding to safety concerns, the Sinohydro spokeswoman said extensive
testing had been conducted, and asserted the condition of the dam was in
line with expectations. "The dam has been filling since October 2010.
During all this process no defects have been mentioned. The dam is safe."
Countering claims by some NGOs that the dam was a wasteful white
elephant, the Sinohydro spokeswoman said it was part of the long-term
plan of the Sarawak state government to create more than 20,000
megawatts (MW) of renewable energy.
The Sarawak government's renewable energy plan would provide substantial
employment opportunities and triple Sarawak's gross domestic product by
2020, she said.
"The Bakun Hydroelectric Project is the largest hydropower project in
Malaysia with an installed capacity of 2,400 MW. It will significantly
contribute to meeting the increasing demand of electricity in the
country," said the website of Sarawak Hidro, a wholly owned subsidiary
of Malaysia's Ministry of Finance which is the developer of the dam.
But Abin accused the Malaysian government and the dam builders of
failing to take the safety of the dam into account. "They are more
interested in completing the dam as the project has been delayed for so
long. This is very serious because a slight tremor will cause the dam
structure to break which can endanger human lives downstream and the
entire Rejang River basin."
Grace Mang, China programme co-ordinator of International Rivers, an
international NGO focusing on water, expressed concern over the
environmental impact of the dam as well as its safety. "The size of the
Bakun project has meant there has been a significant impact on the
surrounding communities and the environment. But new information about
the quality of Sinohydro's construction is certainly alarming," she said.
Sarawak Hidro did not respond to questions from the South China Morning
Russia's EuroSibEnergo, Chinese co sign cooperation agreement
June 17, 2011
Russian power company EuroSibEnergo, part of businessman Oleg
Deripaska's En+ Group, and Chinese hydropower company China Yangtze
Power on Friday signed an agreement for cooperation under their joint
venture Yes Energo.
The deal was signed during the St. Petersburg International Economic
The agreement defines the companies' priority joint projects to build
power facilities in East Siberia. The list of these projects includes
the construction of the Lenskaya thermal power plant with a capacity of
up to 1,200 megawatts (MW) in the Irkutsk Region town of Ust-Kut; the
project to build the Nizhne-Angarskaya hydropower plant with a capacity
of 600-1,200 MW in the Krasnoyarsk Region; and construction of a
hydropower plant with a capacity of 400-900 MW in the Zabaikalsky Region.
The size of investments in these hydropower projects was not provided.
Created earlier this year, Yes Energo is owned by EuroSibEnergo and the
Chinese company on a parity basis.
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