The number of accidents and incidents at dams in 2020 was the highest in a decade

The factory is located on the Jinsha River, at the top of the Yangtze River, passing through Yunnan and Sichuan provinces in southwest China.  Photo: STRINGER/REUTERS

BRASILIA – The National Water Agency (ANA) recorded in 2020 the largest number of accidents and incidents in dams since the beginning of the historical series, in 2011.

The number appears in a dam safety report that the agency submitted to the National Council on Water Resources (CNRH).

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According to the document, 44 incidents and 95 incidents occurred in 16 states, mainly due to heavy rains between January and March last year in the Southeast and Midwest regions.

There was an increase in the number of accidents compared to 2019. In that year, there were 12 accidents and 58 accidents.

Accidents are more serious when the dam’s structure is compromised, which may lead to total or partial collapse of the structure. Accidents are lighter, but they can affect dams or ancillary structures, eventually leading to accidents.

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The report also shows that the number of dams in critical condition decreased from 156 in 2019 to 122 in 2020. These 122 dams are located in 23 states and were deemed critical by 25 regulatory agencies.

Of these, 42 are in Minas Gerais, which leads the rankings, and 12 are in Pernambuco.

This classification occurred in 52% of cases due to the state of dam maintenance. In another 34% of cases, it was due to the high rating of associated potential harm (DPA) in conjunction with the high risk category (CRI).

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The Data Protection Agreement takes into account the potential for loss of life and economic impacts, as well as storage volume and social and environmental impacts. In turn, the CRI takes into account the technical characteristics and the state of preservation of the dam.

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