Medellín based utility company EPM (Epresas Públicas de Medellín) announced that over the weekend it announced an evacuation of 105 workers on the Ituango Hydroelectric Dam, hours north of Medellín. The evacuation was due to water leakage around the inlet from the reservoir to generation unit number 4.
While the dam construction has suffered several major, (and one near-catastrophic) setbacks to the hydroelectric project that if completed, is expected to provide up to 17% of Colombia’s electricity needs, EPM insists that the incident “does not represent a risk for the communities located downstream from the dam, nor the project itself.”
EPM claims in a statement that the increase in water leakage, or infiltration was noticed when a work group of 40 people were in the process of reinforcing one of the concrete plugs that secured the auxiliary gates from the reservoir waters.
Work in other areas continued normally, according to the power utility, under the vigilance of “expert safety professionals.”
Last Thursday, May 8 EPM was conducting a geological exploration of the turbine discharges that had been flooded as an emergency measure last spring due to a tunnel collapse and unexpected flooding. Last February, the turbine discharge tunnels were evacuated, as they cannot be used before technical inspections, completion of access and lighting systems, and microbiological studies. During the inspection, EPM found a mass of dead fish, apparently trapped inside the structure with a lack of oxygen.
EPM reported the discovery to ANLA, Colombia’s National Authority of Environmental Licenses.
Photos courtesy EPM