중앙데일리

Problems of North's dam go beyond flood scenario

May 05,2002
South Korea is making preparations to minimize any damage from the potential flooding of Geumgangsan Dam in North Korea. But Geumgangsan Dam has already caused great damage to the South since its construction, analysts said.

Three billion tons of water flowed from North Korea into the Hwacheon reservoir in South Korea in 1998. But since North Korea completed the construction of Geumgangsan Dam in 2000, the annual flow into the Hwacheon reservoir from Geumgangsan Dam is about 1.2 billion tons. The reduction of 1.8 billion tons, caused by Geumgangsan Dam, makes up 12 percent of the annual flow into the Han River in South Korea. The flow cut, including the damage to power generation, causes the South to lose at least 70 billion won ($54 million) a year.

The Korea Water Resources Corp. supplies 4.3 billion tons of water to industries, farms and consumers in South Korea every year. The state-run company charges 30.35 won per ton of water. Supposing that all of the reduced 1.8 billion tons of flow into the Han River could be sold, the company would make 55 billion won.

In addition, due to the flow cut following the construction of Geumgangsan Dam, the power generated from Hwacheon Dam fell by 200 million kilowatt-hours per year, according to estimates. The power generated from other dams in the Han River also declined by 200 million kilowatt-hours per year. The total cut in generated power reached 14 billion to 20 billion won.

The South Korean government said that North Korea is generating 30 billion won worth of electricity a year from the Anbyon Youth Power Station, a hydroelectric power plant on the east coast, by using the waters of the upper Bukhan River from the reservoir at Geumgangsan Dam.

"At the inter-Korean economic cooperation promotion committee that will be held Tuesday, the South Korean government should not only propose that the two Koreas jointly survey and reinforce the Geumgangsan Dam," said Shim Myung-pil, a professor of civil engineering at Inha University, "but it should also propose that the North swap the waters of the upper Bukhan River for electricity from South Korea."

Since the South Korean government plans to empty the Peace and Hwacheon reservoirs in case of a sudden onrush of water from the north due to the possible collapse of Geumgangsan Dam, the residents near the reservoirs are expected to suffer damage to their farming, fishery and tourism businesses.

by Shin Hye-kyung




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