Be aware of risk of dam disasters, says Nadma

KUALA TERENGGANU: All agencies as well as people living in communities around dams need to be aware of the risk of a disaster to ensure that preparedness is always at an optimal level, especially with the onset of the northeast monsoon this November.

National Disaster Management Agency (Nadma) deputy director-general (Operations Implementation Division) Meor Ismail Meor Akim said that although technology entails an assurance of no dam bursts, preparations to face any possibility must still be made.

"In China and Africa, for example, there have been cases of dam failure, so we have to be prepared for this possibility. However, we really hope that this does not happen (in Malaysia).

"If the Kenyir Dam breaks, the water can rise up to 15 metres in the surrounding area and we need to know what actions should be taken if a major disaster like this occurs," he said here on Tuesday (Sept 27).

He was met by Bernama at the Tabletop programme on the Kenyir Dam Emergency Action Plan organised in collaboration with Nadma, Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB) and the Terengganu state government at a hotel, here.

A total of 26 state and federal departments and agencies, as well as 14 agencies in four districts, namely, Hulu Terengganu, Kuala Terengganu, Kuala Nerus and Marang were involved in the training.

Meor Ismail said the level of preparedness of a related agency and the public in facing a disaster would be a determining factor if a rescue mission were to be successful or otherwise.

"We hold training so that they are ready, the important thing being that we do simulations so that people living in the vicinity understand and are prepared. Among the things that must be understood are the sound of the siren at the dam because there are different types of sirens, warnings of the danger levels and so on," he said.

During the two-day training programme that started on Tuesday, disaster response simulations were conductedt 'on the table', while a larger simulation involving local residents would be carried out on Oct 26 in Hulu Terengganu as it is closest to the Kenyir Dam.

"We've received requests from other states to hold a (similar) simulation and training programme, but we chose Kenyir Dam (as a model) because of the lessons drawn from the big floods earlier this year.

"At that time, the dam did not break, but what happened was an overflow of water due to heavy rain and we chose Kenyir as there are four nearby districts that will be affected if the dam bursts, namely, Hulu Terengganu, Kuala Terengganu, Kuala Nerus and Marang," he said.

According to Meor Ismail again, the training included technical briefing by TNB engineers on the operation of the Kenyir Sultan Mahmud Power Station (SJSM), a presentation by the participants on the impact of a dam disaster as well as the actions to be taken.

"We provided a case study for the participants and asked them to present their action plan in just a few minutes. When there is a real disaster, quick action is crucial, you can't have a one-hour meeting to take action.

"The agencies involved also need to understand the technical issues at the dam because I was informed that each dam uses different technology and at Kenyir, for example, the technology is quite old and there are many challenges in Kenyir because it is a tourist area," he said.

He added that Nadma greatly appreciated the cooperation of all parties including the Terengganu Disaster Management Committee and TNB in ​​making the simulation exercise a success. - Bernama

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