Focus shifts to Bakun clean-up

Posted on June 19, 2011. Filed under: Forestry/Wetlands |

-The Star-

MIRI: Following the successful completion of the Bakun Dam, the focus has now shifted to the cleaning and rehabilitation of the ecosystem of the Bakun valley.

The authorities in Bakun have started preliminary work to clear up to 60,000 tonnes of log debris upstream of the dam.

Two weeks ago, the dam successfully generated 90 minutes of electricity during a trial test.

The test is progressing smoothly and Sarawak Hidro, the manager and operator of the Bakun dam, has shifted their sights to getting the environment cleaned up after 15 years of major construction work.

The clean-up operations have to be carried out fast because a lot of the debris are floating down the 550sq km of the reservoir.

Sarawak Hidro chief engineer and managing director, Zulkifle Osman, told The Star yesterday that the locals were engaged because they know the geographical condition of the area well.

“The early stage of the work has already started.

“We have paid the locals RM900,000 up front to enable them to proceed with the work.

“That was the first payment. We will pay the workers progressively for their work based on the tonnage of timber debris they can retrieve from the reservoir,” he said.

“Once the clean-up is completed, the lake and the rivers upstream will be beautiful and safe to navigate.

“The place has the potential to become a very nice area for tourism.”

Aside from cleaning up the region, plans are also being drawn up to ensure that there would be no excessive logging by any timber firms in the areas surrounding the reservoir.

“Over-logging was a problem before. The rivers were jammed by huge amounts of rejected logs.

“We don’t want it to happen again, so there will be regular surveillance of the reservoir and its surroundings,” said Zulkifle.

The rivers in the catchment area feed the reservoir to a depth of at least 195m, which is the minimum level needed for the water to flow into the intake to turn the power turbines.

Bakun Dam is expected to start generating its first 300MWs from the first turbine this August.

Once all the eight turbines are running, the dam will generate 2,400MWs of power.

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