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Government News Politics

Iraq's Mosul Dam Could Burst At Any Time (blastingnews.com) 198

MarkWhittington writes: The Mosul Dam, located near the city of Mosul in Northern Iraq, was started by Saddam Hussein in 1981 as a way to bolster his regime and provide power to the surrounding area. It was completed in 1986 and has since generated 3,420 gigawatt/hours per year. Unfortunately, the dam was built on an unstable foundation of gypsum and thus needs constant repairs to plug leaks and maintain its structural integrity. Even more unfortunately, such repair efforts have stopped since the Islamic State seized control of Mosul. The dam could burst at any time, as a consequence. The flood could kill a million people and render a million more homeless. Radio Free Europe reports that Italy's Trevi Group has been contracted to repair and maintain the dam, but it seems like there's a lot to catch up with. (Also at The Guardian and Mother Jones.)
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Iraq's Mosul Dam Could Burst At Any Time

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  • Wrong units? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Sun ( 104778 ) on Thursday March 03, 2016 @03:31AM (#51627209) Homepage

    Shouldn't that be "3,420 gigawatt*hour per year", or "3,420 gigawatt*hour/yr"?

    Shachar

    • Re:Wrong units? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Sun ( 104778 ) on Thursday March 03, 2016 @03:33AM (#51627213) Homepage

      Or, to make things simpler, just "390 megawatts"?

      Shachar

      • by Anonymous Coward

        You don't just walk into a store.. and buy Plutonium.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Your first comment was correct, it is gigawatt hours.

        But you cannot "make things simpler" by writing the result in Watts only as it implies a constant load of 390 MW, not an annual energy generation of 3,420 GWh generated per year.

      • Sun is right. Watt is the unit of power. Work is power * time and popular units are Watt-hour, Watt-second or Joule. In this case I'd write something like 3,420 GW-h every year or 3.4 TW-h every year.
      • by cyn1c77 ( 928549 )

        Or, to make things simpler, just "390 megawatts"?

        Shachar

        Or, to make things even simpler, ignore the actual power generation figure and focus on the main point of the article: THE DAM IS ABOUT TO FAIL AND KILL A LOT OF PEOPLE!

    • Re:Wrong units? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by BlackPignouf ( 1017012 ) on Thursday March 03, 2016 @03:50AM (#51627261)

      "News for nerds, where submitters are too stupid to get important units right"

      • by Anonymous Coward

        And the editors' job isn't to correct them.

  • by innocent_white_lamb ( 151825 ) on Thursday March 03, 2016 @03:48AM (#51627255)

    Come hell or high water, this should be dealt with pretty dam fast.

  • Is it bad that my first thought was "well, that will make a dent in Daesh's foothold"?

    Civilians aside, it seems poetic that ISIS will literally be washed from the lands by their own stupidity.
    • But think about all the children!
      • But think about all the children!

        As long as Mosul is in ISIS control, they are ISIS responsibility. We have enough of our own problems

      • For a megadeath, that'll be about 100,000. It'll take a couple of days to replace them. No big deal.
    • by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Thursday March 03, 2016 @04:16AM (#51627323)

      Most of the people killed will not be members of Daesh. While the floodwaters will certainly first hit Mosul, for the most part they'll be heading AWAY from Daesh-controlled territories - and towards Baghdad.

      • Most of the people killed will not be members of Daesh.

        They don't need to be - a million or more people getting killed because of them will cause their support to dwindle. ISIS is not some backwater, unsupported rogue islamic group - they have support to varying degrees from the majority of muslims wordwide (yes, more than 50%).

  • The dam was built on what's effectively ... drywall? How do you fix something like that?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Yes, and gypsum dissolves in water, so a very complex place to build a dam geologically. Basically they constantly pump a mix of cement, sand, rocks and probably other things in the foundation to replace the dissolved gypsum: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grout

      If that is not being done any longer collapse is indeed not far away.

    • Re:Gypsum? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by khallow ( 566160 ) on Thursday March 03, 2016 @05:20AM (#51627457)
      Drain the dam permanently. There could be something they could do to greatly reduce the risk of the dam (and maybe this new contractor will do just that), but in its current state, I just can't see any long term future for it. The problem of course, is that the dam apparently is a fundamental part of the Iraqi electrical grid and perhaps flood control as well.

      It's like a badly run nuclear plant which is a minor accident away from meltdown. Except that it could kill a lot more people than a major meltdown could.
    • The dam was built on what's effectively ... drywall? How do you fix something like that?

      You gather as much joint compound and tape as you can possibly find.

  • by Chrisq ( 894406 ) on Thursday March 03, 2016 @04:43AM (#51627393)
    Cry me a river ... oh wait!
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Must have balls of steel.
    I wouldn't go into Iraq to repair a dam no matter how much you paid me.
    The chances of getting captured by ISIS make it not worth it at all.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Must have balls of steel.
      I wouldn't go into Iraq to repair a dam no matter how much you paid me.
      The chances of getting captured by ISIS make it not worth it at all.

      Not all ISIS members capture people. It's 2016. Stop with the racism already. You might hurt their feelings.

    • Mod this 'Insightful'. Why would skilled, qualified people be sent to a place where their lives could be threatened, even if the lives of a million residents of that place is on the line? The people who have the biggest stakes in it are the residents of Mosul, and ISIS, and so let them have their own resident engineers worry about it.
  • by Dereck1701 ( 1922824 ) on Thursday March 03, 2016 @08:43AM (#51627869)

    If its so dangerous just drain the darn thing. I don't care how neglected it is there has to be some way to open up the valves and drain the reservoir even if it involves shape charges or blow torches. If push came to shove simply disconnect the generators and open up their channels all the way, it would take a long time but the reservoir would eventually drain.

    • by Asgard ( 60200 )

      The article indicates the bottom outlets are jammed, so it may not be possible without extensive repairs first.

    • there has to be some way

      I just hope Mosul realized this in time! It sounds so simple, how could they have let it come to this? While we're at it, we should fix congress by electing better people. And to reduce unemployment and poverty we'll just put everyone to work!

      Sorry, I'm guessing you didn't read about all the problems the dam has but I can never resist these "its so easy!" posts. If you're aware of all the issues and still think 30sec of keyboard quarterbacking can fix everything then I'm pretty sure I know who your candidat

  • ISIS controls Mosul, so even if the Iraqi government took the dam back, the area is still a literal war zone. So, who provides security? Does ISIS have an interest in the dam remaining intact? If Mosul is downriver, I'd certainly think so, but ISIS is nuts.
  • Allahu Akbar!

  • Let it burst (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Khyber ( 864651 ) <techkitsune@gmail.com> on Thursday March 03, 2016 @11:20AM (#51628951) Homepage Journal

    Sure the large loss of life will be tragic, but perhaps this will wake the local people up to the threat of the Islamic State and give them reason to finally arm up and wipe those fuckers out.

    That's right Muslims, when that damn breaks, IS will now be responsible for MILLIONS of your own religious brethren dying.

    So when are you going to stand up and wipe out the extremists? Why are you needing to wait for millions of your own people to die before you come to that startling realization?

    • by eth1 ( 94901 )

      Sure the large loss of life will be tragic, but perhaps this will wake the local people up to the threat of the Islamic State and give them reason to finally arm up and wipe those fuckers out.

      That's right Muslims, when that damn breaks, IS will now be responsible for MILLIONS of your own religious brethren dying.

      So when are you going to stand up and wipe out the extremists? Why are you needing to wait for millions of your own people to die before you come to that startling realization?

      Anyone want to place bets on ISIS giving up control of just the dam on purpose because they knew it was about to fail? So they could use the tragedy to their advantage since "someone else was responsible?"

    • The more desperate people are, the more destroyed their cities are, the more atrocities happen, the more they're going to support extremists. Wouldn't you? Islamic State was the only group brutal enough to take firm control of the anarchy and provide actual services to the people. There's a reason why brutal terrorist regimes gain their footholds in places of anarchy like Afghanistan, Somalia, Libya, Iraq and Syria -- brutality becomes a way of life, only the most brutal can brutal can bring things under co

  • I was there in 2003 and they were saying that then. The workers work pretty hard at plugging the holes. Don't go swimming in the lake gives you a burning sensation. Looks good for taking a plunge when it is 110 outside, then oh shit my skin is burning.

The best way to avoid responsibility is to say, "I've got responsibilities."

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