Mega dams in Sarawak not at risk from quakes, says SEB chief


KUCHING, June 10 — Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB) group chief executive officer Datuk Torstein Dale Sjøtveit stressed that mega dams built in Sarawak are not at risk of bursting from earthquakes.

“Specifically, our hydropower projects are designed in accordance to guidelines established by the International Committee on Large Dams (ICOLD), an international body set up in 1928 to share knowledge, and set standards and guidelines to ensure that dams are built and operated safely,” he said today.

He was responding to concerns being expressed that mega dams could burst should strong earthquakes hit neighbouring Sabah or even in Sarawak in future, which could catastrophic damages.

An earthquake with a magnitude of 5.9 in Ranau, Sabah, killed 16 Mount Kinabalu climbers and mountain guides and caused cracks in building last Friday.

The earthquake was also felt as far as Miri and Brunei.

SEB has already completed the construction of the 944MW Murum dam and is planning to build Baram and Baleh dams next, both possibly early this year or next year.

Save Rivers Network of Sarawak secretary Mark Bujang had called on the state government not to proceed with the construction of Baram dam, after the earth earthquake struck Ranau, about 400km from the dam site.

Bujang had said that if the Baram dam were to burst, it would cause tsunami-like waves down the river, destroying everything in its path.

Sjøtveit said that although the dams are located in an area of low seismic activity, Batang Ai, Murum, Baram and Baleh dams are designed to withstand earthquakes of significantly larger magnitudes than the recent one in Sabah.

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