Tuesday, July 8, 2014

'Sarawak CM's silence on Murum dam worrying'

1:28PM Jul 8, 2014By Dukau Papau
Sarawakians living along the banks of Rajang River are worried over the silence of Chief Minister Adenan Satem and the Minister of Public Utilities Awang Tengah Ali Hassan, on the cracks of the Murum dam as recently highlighted by whistleblower websiteSarawak Report.

They are worried about their safety, said Sarawak PKR vice-chairperson See Chee How (right).

"Adenan must must demand a detailed report from Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB) and the Ministry of Public Utilities regarding the confidential assessment by Norwegian consultancy company Norconsult on the turbines of the Murum dam.

"It had asserted that 'turbine runners are not suitable for installation and operation' and the defects could lead to possible catastrophic breakdowns," he said.

Norconsult's confidential report pointed out that the turbine runners at the Murum dam have cracks and the quality of the welding and grinding is poor.

It added the defects are located in high stress areas and that the defects could likely be the starting point for fatigue cracks which in turn could lead to small or major breakdowns leading to power disruptions.

"The state government must these economic threats seriously. The industries set up at Samalaju will be affected as well as the state power grid.

"The SEB must recognise the potential risks of breakdowns and power disruption and identify the mitigating measures," said See, who is the Batu Lintang assemblyperson.

Not disputed

He reminded the chief minister that SEB and the public utilities minister have not disputed the findings of the leaked assessment of Norconsult.

The SEB through its CEO Torstein Dale Sjotveit (left) merely played down the current security risk at the Murum dam, saying that the 'problems found on the turbine runner are rectifiable' and that the Murum dam 'will be completely safe'.

The minister of public utilities has been silent on this issue, which See found disquieting.

He continued: "Further, it is controversial for SEB to undertake and perform the professionally contentious repair works at the already installed turbines.

"Torstein had disclosed that the dam building contractor, Three Gorges Development company, was asked to do the repair at the site in order to keep the commissioning schedule on track, a move considered to compromise the safety of the workers.

See pointed out that Professor Daniel Kammen from the University of California, Berkeley, had expressed caution on SEB's handling of the problem at the dam.

Kammen was the World Bank group's chief technical specialist for renewal energy and energy efficiency, consultant in energy resources and public policies.

He was reported as saying: “I would be totally amazed if it was possible to do a proper alignment in situ. This looks clumsy. I have not seen this type of repair done in such a way before”.

See added that the chief minister must be reminded that SEB is yet to fulfill its promise to make public the investigation into the statewide blackout on June 26, 2013, by releasing the findings of the Ministry of Federal Finance, SEB, Sarawak Hydro Sdn Bhd and private consulting firm Poyre Engineering.

"It had caused economic damage to industrial, commercial and domestic consumers alike," he pointed out.

~ Malaysiakini

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