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Cambodian DPM Keat Chhon: dam “not collapse”, just small technical problem…man is delusional

PHNOM PENH, Dec. 6 (Xinhua) — Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Keat Chhon said here Thursday that the incident at the Atay hydropower dam was just a “small technical problem” and the company has high responsibilities for this issue.

“It is not the collapse of the dam,” he said at the National Assembly’s session following the claim of opposition party lawmaker Yim Sovann that “the Atay dam was collapsed due to substandard (factors).”

“The project is still good, but it will be a bit delay in supplying electricity,” Keat Chhon said. “We are sorry for the injuries to workers during the incident.”

Minister of Industry, Mines and Energy Suy Sem said that the incident was “very small” because it was just the leakage in a concrete tunnel of the dam.

“It is not the collapse of the dam, there is no remarkable damage, the turbines are all in good conditions, the dam is also in good shape,” he told Xinhua over the phone on Wednesday. “The firm just fixes the damaged point, everything is OK.”

He said the incident would not discourage the government from supporting Chinese companies in hydropower development.

“We still strongly support the company to continue the dam construction in order to complete it as soon as possible,” he said. “We need electricity; it is a key element for the country’s social and economic development.”

The incident happened on Dec. 1 at the Atay hydropower dam when a concrete tunnel at the upper part of the dam ruptured, causing water in the reservoir to flood downstream, leaving six workers slightly injured and three others missing.

The injured were immediately sent to hospital and five of them have recovered and left the hospital.

The firm is still searching the three missing men, and construction of the dam is still under way.

Situated at the upper reaches of the Atay River in Pursat province, western Cambodia, the hydropower project covers an area of 4,674 hectares. With a total installed capacity of 120 megawatts, the hydropower station will supply power to the Electricity of Cambodia when it goes into operation.

The 381-million- U.S. dollar project is invested by the China Datang Corporation. Construction started in May 2008 and is expected to complete in November 2013 under a concessional 34-year build-operate-transfer contract with the Cambodian government.

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