Norway considers blowing open dam after heavy rains

AFP , Wednesday 9 Aug 2023

Norwegian authorities said Wednesday thousands had been evacuated following massive floods and that they were considering blowing open a dam after the floodgates failed to open.

Braskereidfoss Power plant
Water flows after the dam burst at the Braskereidfoss Power plant, Norway with water flowing into the Glomma river after floodgates did not open properly, on August 9, 2023. AFP


Norway's armed forces said they had been asked to assist police at the Braskereidfoss hydroelectric power station, which lies along the Glomma river -- the longest in Norway -- to evaluate whether the gates would need to be blasted open.

"Blasting experts from the Norwegian Armed Forces are at the scene to coordinate and make assessments in consultation with the police," the military said in a statement.

Operator Hafslund said in a statement that as a result of a grid failure, the dam's generators stopped operating in the early hours of Wednesday.

"An automatic system should lead to the floodgates being opened in the event of a stoppage," the company said, adding that it was unknown why this had failed in this instance.

The rising water level had subsequently flooded the facility which was no longer operational, Hafslund added, noting that the incident had only resulted in material damage.

In a separate statement, police said they had begun evacuating people living along the rising river and were working to reduce the water pressure at the station, including using excavators at the site.

Multiple Norwegian police districts also reported that people had been evacuated from flooded areas.

Aud Hove, county mayor of Innlandet, one of the worst hit areas, said 115 country roads had been affected by landslides or flooding, leaving people isolated in many instances.

"We are in a crisis situation of national dimensions. People are isolated in several local communities and emergency services risk not being able to reach people who need help," Hove said in a statement.

Norway's Ministry of Justice and Public Security said it had deployed seven additional helicopters to assist rescue services in the country.

"There are many evacuees, many people affected and enormous material damage. It is a very demanding situation in large parts of the country," Minister of Justice and Public Security Emilie Enger Mehl said in a statement.

Norway and neighbouring Sweden have struggled to handle massive downpours since the weekend, which have caused both flooding and landslides in the Scandinavian countries.

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