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Luleå U experts studying dangerous dam in Mosul

Published lördag 13 februari 2016 kl 15.44
"Experts think half a million to 1 million people will die due to this catastrophe if it takes place"
(3:34 min)
Bild på Mosuldammen
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Picture of the Mosul Dam.
Photo: Nils Eklund/Sveriges radio
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Professor Nadhir Al-Ansari, from Luleå Technical University. Photo: Nils Eklund/Sveriges radio Credit: Nils Eklund

A team of Swedish researchers is working to find viable solutions to what some call the world's most dangerous dam, the Mosul Dam in northern Iraq. If it collapses millions of people could die.

Completed in 1984, the dam sits atop unstable ground, reports Swedish Radio News. Recently a team of American engineers published a report that claimed coditions had worsened after a brief period in 2014 when the Islamic State (IS) controlled the dam.

The dam is 113 meters high and 3.5 kilometers long and is built on a stretch of the Tigris River which sits some tens of kilometers upstream from Mosul with an urban area home to more than a million people. The dam provides water and electricity to large parts of Iraq when it is in operation.

Unfortunately, the foundation is built upon ground that contains limestone and gypsum, which is vulnerable to forming cracks and sinkholes. For decades cavities in and around the dam have needed to be filled with concrete, a procedure carried out every day of the week.

Nadhir Al-Ansari, a professor at the Luleå University of Technology, told Radio Sweden that researchers at Luleå believe only the construction of an additional dam downriver can provide a permanent solution.

"The Iraqi government in the 80s, they asked the international experts, and the decision was to build another dam downstream from Mosul Dam to absorb the wave of that dam. And we think this is correct. This is the right permanent solution," said Al-Ansari.

He said Luleå researchers were planning an international workshop at the American Education Center in Rome this April. They will invite Iraqi officials and international dam experts to discuss short and long-term planning for preventing a catastrophe.

Our journalism is based on credibility and impartiality. Swedish Radio is independent and not affiliated to any political, religious, financial, public or private interests.
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