Canals, Tunnels and Penstocks, Environmental, Latin America

EPM working on recovery at Ituango Dam after two tunnel collapses

Two falls of rock and soil occurred in late April at Ituango Dam and the associated 2.4-GW hydroelectric facility in Colombia, causing a partial obstruction of a tunnel that diverts the Cauca River.

Dam owner Empresas Publicas de Medellin (EPM) says the partial obstructions of the tunnel that occurred on April 28 and April 30 were “caused by a geological condition that caused the rock and soil to collapse inside the tunnel.”

EPM reported May 5 that its work was focused on four fronts:

  • Remove the plugs from the other project tunnels so water can run through them
  • Raise the level of the dam to force water to flow through the dump [translation not clear, perhaps dump refers to the spillway] if it reaches that level
  • Keep up communication with communities downstream and upstream of the project
  • Continue environmental management efforts to protect wildlife

Flow in the Cauca River downstream has slowly increased as the tunnel that was blocked by the collapse begins to release more water.

Earlier this year, EPM received a US$100 million project-related corporate loan to develop Ituango from KfW IPEX-Bank. This occurred shortly after the IDB Invest branch of the Inter-American Development bank agreed to provide a US$1 billion loan to EPM for construction of Ituango.