Earthquakes causing concern for Vietnam's 190-MW Song Tranh 2 hydropower project

A surge in seismic activity near the 190-MW Song Tranh 2 hydroelectric plant has residents in Vietnam's Quang Nam Province fearing for their safety.

Vietnamese officials reported at least 12 earthquakes on Monday, with the strongest registering a 4.2 on the Richter scale. These were followed by four more tremors Thursday -- the strongest of which measured 3.4.

The Song Tranh 2 hydropower project, which impounds more than 730 million cubic meters of water and is among the largest in central Vietnam, has been blamed for minor earthquakes in the area since its completion in December 2010.

Residents say they fear that the earthquakes are causing cracks and water leakage in the base of the Song Tranh 2 dam, although the Quang Nam administration says the problem has been fixed. reported in May that Vietnam's Ministry of Industry and Trade had asked the plant's operator to increase its water discharge in an attempt to save drought-stricken rice growing areas.

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