Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Mystery of Mosul Dam

Last week the Washingtonpost write a report about the Mosul Dam.
The report include the following

"AT THE MOSUL DAM, Iraq -- The largest dam in Iraq is in serious danger of an imminent collapse that could unleash a trillion-gallon wave of water, possibly killing thousands of people and flooding two of the largest cities in the country, according to new assessments by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other U.S. officials.

Even in a country gripped by daily bloodshed, the possibility of a catastrophic failure of the Mosul Dam has alarmed American officials, who have concluded that it could lead to as many as 500,000 civilian deaths by drowning Mosul under 65 feet of water and parts of Baghdad under 15 feet, said Abdulkhalik Thanoon Ayoub, the dam manager. "The Mosul dam is judged to have an unacceptable annual failure probability," in the dry wording of an Army Corps of Engineers draft report.

Water rushes down a spillway at Mosul Dam. As engineers monitor the structure to determine leakage, machines constantly pump grout deep into its base.
Water rushes down a spillway at Mosul Dam. As engineers monitor the structure to determine leakage, machines constantly pump grout deep into its base. (U.s. Army Corps Of Engineers)

At the same time, a U.S. reconstruction project to help shore up the dam in northern Iraq has been marred by incompetence and mismanagement, according to Iraqi officials and a report by a U.S. oversight agency to be released Tuesday. The reconstruction project, worth at least $27 million, was not intended to be a permanent solution to the dam's deficiencies.

"In terms of internal erosion potential of the foundation, Mosul Dam is the most dangerous dam in the world," the Army Corps concluded in September 2006, according to the report to be released Tuesday. "If a small problem [at] Mosul Dam occurs, failure is likely."

The Iraqi media and other media spread the report, it made a terror in the city,, some people even planed to leave the city!. why not if a wave of 65 feet will cover the city?.

Next day, Abdulkhalik Thanoon Ayoub, the dam manager, said :"There is no danger from the dam!!".
How can we believe him, while the report said " 3 trillion gallons of water" may cover the city at any time ?

I wrote to my cousin, an engineer who have enough knowledge, asking him for advice.
He wrote to me:

"I hope all is OK with you and all the family.
There is a possibility of the dam failure. I don't thing it is imminent. Also if it fails the danger to the city of mosul and Baghdad is minimal. That is because Mosul is higher than the river channel and baghdad is too far for the wave to reach it before it is flatened.
I will get the technical report and read it as soon as I can. I will let you know what I find.

Best wishes to all.

The next day he send me another e.mail:

"I have done more research about Mosul Dam. I found out that there is no danger to Mosul or Baghdad in the event that the dam has a catastrophic failure. That is a sudden total col laps. The reason that the reservoir now only holds 3 billion cubic meter. The dam was designed to hold 11 BCM.
With only 3 BCM the dam will not fail and if it fails there will be no danger of flooding.

Best wishes"

OK, now we can sleep comfortably thinking only in the home raids, roadside bombs, and bombed cars. At least those may kill only few tens of people, while the flood my kill more than 500 000 people.

One question in my mind. What is the purpose of this article? Is there any hidden objective?
May be I became very suspicious about any thing come from the American side.


Bruno said...

Dear Truthteller,

This article has been also discussed by another Iraqi blogger over here:

There are some interesting comments as well.

Frankly I don't know if this is one of the propaganda efforts that the Americans release from time to time. Given that they are partly responsible for maintaining the dam, a catastrophic failure would be on their heads as well. On the other hand, maybe the story is aimed at creatng fear amongst Iraqis and making them believe that only the US stands between them and disaster. Since the US intends on remaining in Iraq for a very long time, it could be trying to create new reasons (as opposed to 'democracy' or 'al qaeda') for staying there. It's just a guess.

[TT] "May be I became very suspicious about any thing come from the American side."

I agree. I'm also suspicious. They plant stories from time to time that are big distortions of the real events on the ground in order to try and manipulate public opinion. They even have specialised companies doing this for them, such as "Lincoln Group". This is really annoying, because then one can't tell whether a story is the truth or some invented lie. In the case of the Mosul dam, knowing the difference is very important.

B Will Derd said...

My impression from all I read about the story, and I have been reading about it ever since my daughter spent her first tour in Mosul in 2003-04, is that the damn will fail at some point. But that will not necessarily be sudden catastrophe as long as maintainence and inspections are constant and through. The main danger is a sudden and highly unusual rain event in the floodplain upstream causing a rising lake level that would exceed the already failing dam. So, there would be some warning and a sudden, catastrophic failure is unlikely right now. Also, US personnel in Iraq have been told that one side of the river is sufficiently higher than the other so that it will not be effected except in a very worst case scenario that would come with plenty of warning. (sorry, I don't remember which, but I think it is the side on which the largest part of Mosul is built)

The US Army Corp of Engineers brought the problems to light since they have gradually removed themselves from the ongoing and constant repairs that have been necessary since the very beginning of the dam's construction on an unsuitable base. They are engaged in what we call CYA, or Covering Your ASS--- if the damn does fail, they can point to these quotes as fair warning.

All due respect to your engineer relative, but if the Army Corp of Engineers says it is dangerous, I wouldn't ignore the warning. The city should have some sort of evacuation plan and early warning system in place. The Corp knows a thing or two about dam construction and maintainance since the US has over 75,000 and they are the go to authority and responsible agency on the subject here. You may be suspicious of US spokesmen, and often for good reason, but I would be extremely suspicious of an Iraqi spokesman who said there was NO reason for concern. At the news conference where he made that statement, he also said that there were around the clock operations pumping grout into the dam. If they are doing that, there is plenty of reason for concern. You don't do that on a damn that is safe.

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B Will Derd said...

Am I the only one left in old 'gang' that still gets updates? I wonder how many of you are still as ignorant and proven so by subsequent events as I remember you?

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