After a flare up of attacks on U.S. forces in western Iraq near Hit and Hadithah cost 21 U.S. Marines their lives in the first few days of August, authorities shut down electricity production at the big the Hadithah Dam on Aug. 3, as well as on related work on a 400 KV transmission project, and sent Iraqi workers home until "security improves."
|Fortress. Hadithah Dam's power output may suffer from shrapnel sucked into turbines.(Photo by Kimberly Johnson)|
"The shut down is due to concern for the workers safety given some attacks earlier," was the explanation in an Aug. 4 advisory to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officials and contractors engaged in reconstruction. "The dam itself has not been damaged. When the security situation improves, operations should resume," the advisory states.
The combined nameplate capacity of the dams six turbines is 660 MW, but just before the shut down, during a site visit by ENR at the end of July, dam manager Hasaan Yehea Hasaan said output was limited to two turbines, with four out of service. One has a broken blade that could keep it out of commission for up to a year, he says, adding that the plant needs about $5 million in repairs.
However, Hasaan also says the dams best output now is 440 MW, which suggests at least four turbines are functional, although a Corps spokesman in Baghdad says Central Iraq Corps District officials were unavailable to respond to a request for information about the dams current condition due to the security situation. The Corps does not keep full time staff at the facility, he says, dding that operations were turned over to the Iraqis some time ago.
| Hasaan |
(Photo by Kimberly Johnson)
More than a year ago, On June 3, 2004, the Corps reported the facility was fully operational and running at capacity for the first time since 1990 after a $12-million rehabilitation, overseen by CH2M Hill Cos. Ltd. A spokesman for CH2M Hill declined to comment on the rehab project, saying company policy prohibits discussion of work when employees or others affiliated with projects could be put in harms way
Hasaan says one of his operational problems is that U.S. Marines who bunk inside the massive concrete structure draw attacks. Insurgents fire mortars at the 20-year-old rockfill dam almost daily. The 57-meter-high, 8,933-m-long dam includes a concrete spillway and powerhouse that protects its equipment and the Marines bunking there from direct fire. But mortar rounds landing in water behind the spillway explode underwater, sending shrapnel into the turbines. Hasaan believes shelling would stop if the Marines left. They do not attack the dam, they attack the American army, says Hasaan. I want the Marines to leave today.
U.S. Marine Maj. Karl Gordon, who manages the Marines relationship with dam officials, says troops provide security for the dam and eventually will turn it back to Iraqi control. But he says there are no immediate plans to do so.
The McGraw-Hill editor who filed the Hadithah Dam interview report above, Kimberly Johnson, is an editor at ENR's sister publication, Aviation Week. She is currently embedded with the 2nd Marine Division in Iraq covering aviation and construction issues. In addition to filing reports for both magazines, as well as Platts, McGraw-Hill's energy sector information service, she is producing a regular blog at: http://moab-iraq.blogspot.com.
There are a number of agencies and authorities generating regular and special reports to describe the complex picture of reconstruction in Iraq. Taken together and revisited regularly, they provide a nuanced view of the constantly evolving situation. Here are few that have proven particularly useful to editors at ENR.