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7 Mar 2020

Max Avary & Joshua Lipes, Radio Free Asia

Laos Establishes Committee to Inspect Safety of Nation’s Dams

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3 March 2020

The government of Laos has established a committee of local and foreign experts to inspect the safety of the nation's dams...as it forges ahead with plans to supply regional power despite several catastrophic accidents in recent years.


French large-dam expert Anton Schleis leads the committee which...had inspected 13 small dams and found the construction of one to be substandard, the official said.


There are currently 39 operational dams in Laos, as well as 24 dams under construction and 291 in the planning stage or undergoing feasibility studies. The committee plans to inspect all 39 of the country's operational dams by year-end....


On July 23, 2018 water poured over a saddle dam at the Xe Pian Xe Namnoy (PNPC) hydropower project following heavy rains, inundating 12 villages and killing at least 40 people in southern Laos' Champassak and Attapeu provinces.

Laos' Ministry of Energy and Mines blamed the collapse of the auxiliary dam, which displaced about 7,000 people, on substandard construction, prompting calls by Lao officials for the project's main developer—South Korea's SK Engineering and Construction—to be held accountable.