Russia knew power plant was unsafe a decade ago
As the death toll rises to 66, the unexplained blast highlights the dangers of the country’s neglected and disintegrating infrastructure
Sunday 23 August 2009
Russian authorities were reportedly warned that Siberia's massive Sayano-Shushenskaya hydroelectric power plant had fallen into serious neglect and was unsafe more than a decade before last week's deadly accident.
The death toll rose to 66 yesterday as rescuers continued to drain the dam's destroyed turbine room. They recovered 19 more bodies amid the twisted metal and concrete wreckage from Monday's unexplained explosion. Nine workers were still missing.
The blast has highlighted the dangers of Russia's creaking infrastructure. For years, the Kremlin was urged by independent experts and even by its own ministries to invest some of its oil and gas billions to update Soviet-era infrastructure. But a lack of expertise combined with government apathy means that Russian power plants, along with dangerous roads, decaying utilities, aging transport fleets and creaking buildings, continue to claim victims.
The Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin, who toured the crippled plant on Friday, has acknowledged that Russia must plan for the regular upgrade of "vital parts of infrastructure".
The power plant, 2,100 miles east of Moscow, is the country's largest hydroelectric facility.
Russia's Emergency Situations Ministry warned in 1998 that the dam had fallen into dangerous neglect, according to the business daily Kommersant. The same ministry forecast in 2005 that decaying infrastructure would be the cause of most technological accidents in the coming years.
The global economic downturn has thwarted efforts to finance infrastructure upgrades, such as a now-postponed liberalisation in energy-sector prices that was supposed to help privatised power plants generate cash to pay for maintenance and equipment. Vladimir Tikhomirov, of the Moscow bank UralSib, said: "The federal budget is not going to have the money to invest in the companies' operations programme, so the cost will have to be passed on to the consumers. There's no other way, otherwise we'll be in for other technology-caused disasters."
- 2 Porn block in India: hundreds of sexual websites banned, internet outraged
- 4 Dutch King Willem-Alexander declares the end of the welfare state
- 5 Gamers confess the worst things they've done in The Sims
Jackie Chan in second place in Forbes' Highest Paid Actors list after magazine includes actors working outside US movie industry
Malaysia issues arrest warrant for Gordon Brown’s sister-in-law after she publishes stories on leader Najib Razak's financial affairs
Natalia Molchanova: World's most successful free-driver is missing and feared dead after disappearing in Mediterranean
Giant Minion terrorises drivers in Ireland as 40ft inflatable blocks traffic on Dublin road
Dutch King Willem-Alexander declares the end of the welfare state
Is Britain really full up? Are migrants taking our jobs? Leading academic answers the most common anti-immigration claims
Calais Migrant Crisis: Deputy Mayor of Calais labels Cameron's use of 'swarm' as 'racist' and 'ignorant'
Chris Leslie: Jeremy Corbyn's anti-austerity agenda will harm the poor, says Labour shadow Chancellor
Landlords renting properties to illegal immigrants to face up to five years in prison
While we fixate on Calais, the Home Office is quietly deporting dozens of migrants on 'ghost flights'
Labour leadership race: Jeremy Corbyn could be the next Prime Minister, says Ken Clarke
£350 p/d (Contract): Guru Careers: A Software Developer / Web Developer (PHP /...
£14000 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...
£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£16000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This award winning Property Man...