Laos’ Xekaman 3 dam break shuts off power to Vietnam

A break in a critical waterway shut down a hydro-electric dam in southern Laos and raised questions about the quality of construction at the facility that sends most of the power it generates to Vietnam. While officials said the Dec. 16 break in the Xekaman 3 facility’s penstock posed no threat to people living downstream, it marked the second breakdown in the tunnel that channels water to the power turbine, RFA’s Lao Service has learned. “The broken portion of the pipe is about 100 meters from the power house,” said an official who spoke on condition of anonymity. “Rocks and mud flowed into the power house.” According to the official, the damage is extensive as the power house and its equipment were inundated. “The dam is no longer operational,” the official told RFA’s Lao Service. “Power production is stopped.”

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