The Hidroítuango Dam in Colombia: Things Are Getting Worse

By Otto Rock

Authorities call for emergency evacuation

Maybe ten days ago, this humble corner of cyberspace brought you news of a potential disaster in Colombia. The Hidroítuango hydroelectric dam near Medellín in Antioquia is a new civil works project, was supposed to go online late last year but because of serious miscalculations in its design along with abnormally heavy rains is now under serious threat of collapse. If that happens, the houses and around 130,000 people living downstream could quite literally be wiped out (the boffins talk about a 26m high wall of water rushing down the river valley…not funny in the slightest).

Well people, news from Hidroítuango this morning tells us this story hasn’t gone away. The latest is that the the danger level has been risen to Red Alert (highest level), the reservoir is full to overflowing, mountain peak overlooking the dam is now unstable and engineers expect landslides in the next few hours into the dam and reservoir area, roads 13km below the dam have been closed and local authorities are now calling for the evacuation of everybody downstream. Yup, 130,000 people.

Apart from that, they’re having a great day.

PS: I’ve been asked so here’s the answer. The dam was built by a Brazil/Colombia consortium known as CCC, a JV between Brazil’s private capitals company Camargo Correa (which has been closely linked in several of the Odebrecht bribery scandals), Colombia’s Conisa Ramón HSA and Colombia’s Constructore Concreto SA. They won the tender for the contract back in 2012.

UPDATE: An evacuation order has just been signed by the mayor of the local area, affecting 30 regions.

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