Flying squad finds Bakun Dam in good, safe condition

An aerial view of Bakun Dam.

KUCHING, Oct 3: The Dam Safety Flying Squad, an ad-hoc team coordinated by the Natural Resources, Environment and Climate Change Ministry (NRECC) and comprising experts from various technical departments, reported that Sarawak’s Bakun Hydroelectric Plant or Bakun Dam is in good and safe condition.

According to Sarawak Energy Berhad as the Dam’s owner and operator, the Flying Squad visited the Bakun Dam in October 2022 for its 2021-2022 inspection.

The Bakun Dam which won the Best Dam Operator (under the Dam Safety Programme category) 2023 at the International Conference on Dam Safety Management and Engineering in March 2023, was among the selected dams to undergo the audit conducted by the Flying Squad last year.

Bakun Dam is also the recipient of the Malaysian Society for Occupational Safety and Health (MSOSH) Safety Awards, and winner of the Prime Minister’s Hibiscus Award (PMHA) Challenge Trophy 2023 and Excellent Achievement Award 2023.

“Sarawak Energy’s hydropower facilities have been designed according to the highest international technical standards for durability and safety.

“Specifically, its hydropower projects are designed in accordance with 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.

“These guidelines are also used to ensure dam safety worldwide including seismically active regions of the world such as the Himalayas and Japan,” the company said in a statement today.

Besides the audit conducted by the Flying Squad, Sarawak Energy also appointed independent international hydropower consultants to conduct Dam Safety Review audits of all its hydro dams every 5 to 7 years in accordance with the requirements established by MyDAMS (Malaysia Dam Safety Management) and ICOLD (the International Committee on Large Dams) Guidelines.

The last Dam Safety Review for Bakun Dam was conducted in October 2022 and found the dam to be in fair and good condition.

For the record, the latest Flying Squad’s audit found that based on Bakun Dam’s sediment formation in the reservoir, it could withstand sedimentation up to 1,000 years.

Additionally, the Dam’s seepage level is reported normal and within tolerance.

There were minor defects on the integrity of main structures highlighted in the audits but it were not detrimental to the structure stability, and have been rectified.

The report also found minor soil erosion of the Dam’s downstream slopes but they were non-critical and have been resolved.

In addition, Sarawak Energy has two certified Dam Inspectors by the Malaysian National Committee on Large Dams (MYCOLD).

The company’s Dam Safety Division conducts biannual internal reviews, on top of the daily, weekly and monthly routine inspections conducted by its onsite personnel.

Earlier this year, the Bakun Dam’s Seismicity System was refurbished, and instrumentation was also automated.

It has been reported that the dam safety flying squad in its inspection from 2021 to 2022 found eight dams in Malaysia including the Bakun Dam, to be damaged and could pose a threat to residents and property in the event of failure.

have been damaged and could pose a threat to residents and property in the event of failure. — DayakDaily