Dam will not collapse, EIT vows

national February 13, 2015 01:00

By Nisanart Kangwanwong,
Pratch

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Fears mount over Mae Suai Reservoir cracks



THE ENGINEERING Institute of Thailand (EIT) has joined other agencies in trying to ease public concern over the safety of the Mae Suai Reservoir in Chiang Rai province in the face of earthquake fears. 
Fears of an earthquake have deepened after a 6.3-magnitude quake hit the province on May 5 last year and hundreds of aftershocks followed, causing some cracks in the structure. 
“It can withstand a quake with a magnitude of up to seven on the Richter scale,” Anurak Chuchern said yesterday in his capacity as the overseer of the dam.
Constructed in 2003, the dam is located in Chiang Rai’s Mae Suai district. It started storing water in 2014. 
“False rumours have been spread that as a result of the cracks the reservoir will burst. Many locals have relocated away from the reservoir’s neighbourhood,” Anurak said.
He said relevant agencies had dispatched engineers to inspect the reservoir several times in response to the concerns of locals and they found that the structure was secure. 
“But we are in the process of improving the reservoir further so as to boost public confidence in its safety,” he said.
EIT vice director Suttisak Soralump told a press conference yesterday that the 6.3-magnitude earthquake caused only slight damage to the reservoir.
“That damage definitely can’t bring down the structure,” he said, having inspected the reservoir recently. 
“The cracks on the top concrete part of the dam have existed since the dam was built and causes some water to leak when the water level in the dam is high. 
“They were caused by the concrete part and earth part of the dam sinking at different rates. The earthquake only made new cracks on the concrete blocks.”
 Despite the assurances, Assoc Prof Suwattana Thittaladakorn, the EIT’s expert in water-resource engineering, said the damage would have to be fixed to make people feel safe. 
Suwattana also said locals would have to be prepared in the event of another earthquake occurring and an early-warning earthquake system would be installed.
The EIT examined the reservoir after the safety concerns caused a rift between the Royal Irrigation Department and locals.