Authorities in Laos Draft Law on Hydropower Safety

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Laos to Inspect Hydropower Dams Every 5 Years (Photo Ngam Ngiep 1)
Ngam Ngiep 1 Hydropower Project

The government of Laos has completed drafting a law on hydropower safety to improve safety and reduce accidents.

The law will cover dams and hydropower installations and set standards or quality control procedures for each phase of construction, Lao National Radio reports.

Deputy Minister of Energy and Mines, Mr. Sinava Souphanouvong, spoke during a conference held to discuss the draft law on hydropower safety that took place in Vientiane Capital yesterday.

He said that Laos currently lacks sufficient regulations on dam safety and must ensure it moves to rectify this issue, in step with the rest of the world, as well as preparing for the increased risk of natural disasters.

Mr. Sinava said that the majority of regulations are geared toward promoting investment rather than safety, while the distribution of responsibility among the parties engaged in dam safety is unclear, and expertise and attention to dam safety are lacking.

There are currently 88 operational hydropower plants and ten mining operations in Laos, according to Mr. Sinava.

“Three hydropower installations have already collapsed or witnessed accidents in 2015, 2017, and 2018,” said Mr. Sinava.

In July 2018, the saddle dam at the Xe Pian Xe Namnoy hydropower project collapsed after heavy rains, leaving at least 40 people dead and 6,630 living in emergency shelters, while the accident caused massive damage to private property and infrastructure.

“The new Law on Hydropower Dam Safety includes seven sections and 92 articles, and authorities plan to present the law draft to parliament for approval as soon as possible,” Mr. Sinava added.