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Uzbek experts propose to audit large-scale hydropower stations (HPS), operating in Central Asia

Environmentalists of Uzbekistan are expressing their concern about the work of existing and construction of new large hydropower plants on rivers of the region. 

Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Environmental movement of Uzbekistan Mr. Boriy Alikhanov declared that the accident at the Sayano-Shushenskaya hydropower plant has raised concerns about the safety of large power plants, built in Soviet times in Central Asia.

«We familiarized ourselves with the reports of this tragic event with anxiety and bitter regret. We in Uzbekistan were worried about this incident because our territory is under the threat of possible accidents at similar facilities, in the first place Nurek and Toktogul hydroelectric power stations, located in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan », - said Mr.Alikhanov. 
Chairman of the Environmental Movement stressed that the Nurek HPS dam, which’s date of commissioning coincides with the Sayano-Shushenskaya HPS, is the highest in the world - 310 meters. Nurek holds in his basin 10,5 billion cubic meters of water, Toktogul reservoir dam with a height of 215 meters can accumulate 19,5 billion cubic meters of water.
Mr.Alikhanov reported that the accident at the Sayano-Shushenskaya HPS was alarm signal, which brings the dozens of questions related to possible threats against the people and the environment from HPS activity, primarily located on transboundary rivers. 

Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, located in the upstreams of major rivers of Central Asia, unilaterally use HPSs, acquired after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
As the Mr. Alikhanov underlined reservoirs of Nurek and Toktogul HPSs, which served in their time, primarily as the reservoirs of water for irrigation of agricultural lands, including in downstream countries, at this stage are actively used by the two countries to solve their own energy problems. 
According to the expert’s opinion, existing real threats require the adoption of adequate measures. At the same time, he highlighted the need for a comprehensive audit of existing hydroelectric power stations on all major reservoirs of Central Asia. 

Chairman of the Environmental movement also considers it important to take into account the human factor and «to carry out the certification and, if necessary, retrain all specialists, involved in the operation of these facilities». Particular emphasis was placed on the issue of ensuring reliable security for hydroelectric facilities. 

At the same time, B.Alikhanov expressed concern about the intentions of Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan to build major new power stations in the upstreams of transboundary rivers. According to the expert, the problem of rational and fair use of water resources of transboundary rivers in many ways is reinforced by the existing fragile ecological balance in Central Asia. 

«We must not forget that this is zone of high seismic activity, where the intensity of the earthquake reaches 9-10 points, and in one moment can destroy the largest HPSs», - he said. Mr.Alihanov once more called upon to follow the international norms in the construction of new hydro objects on transboundary rivers, as well as to base on data from independent experts.


London, 11 September 2009.

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