June 05, 2013 09:36
North Korea recently opened the floodgates to discharge huge amounts of water from the Huichon hydro-power station in Chagang Province, a flagship project for the regime.
The dam has a power generation capacity of 300,000 kW.
Experts speculate that the water was either discharged to brace for the rainy season or to lower the water table for emergency repair work on the trouble-ridden facility.
Images from a South Korean satellite show that the North lowered the water table behind the dam to a level where it is impossible to generate power. Even before that it only stored 10 percent of the full capacity of 550 million tons.
A government official here said rains in the area between December and April were the same as in previous years at about 128 mm, and there was no special flood alert or warning for the area either.
The Huichon power station was built to solve chronic electricity shortages for Pyongyang and its vicinity, but serious leaks and cracks were spotted the moment the first phase was complete in April 2011.
Former leader Kim Jong-il regarded the power plant as his final achievement and visited the building site eight times until he died on Dec. 17, 2011. Some intelligence reports suggested that he died in a fit of rage on his way to the dam after learning that cracks had appeared due to shoddy construction.
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