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Wed, May 31, 2000 - Page 3 News List

Barrier lakes made safer

POST-QUAKE MEASURES Work is being undertaken in central Taiwan to stabilize areas damaged by the 921 earthquake and reduce the chances of floods and mudslides occurring in the upcoming typhoon season


Chairman of the Council of Agriculture, Chen Hsi-huang, left, visits the quake-stricken areas of Nantou County yesterday.


Flood and mudflow prevention engineering work around dams created by landslides during the 921 earthquake will be completed within three weeks, Chairman of the Council of Agriculture, Hsi-huang (陳希煌), said yesterday.

During a field inspection of disaster areas in Nantou County yesterday morning -- including the famous landslide dam formed on Chiufenerh Mountain (九份二山) -- Chen said that the mudflow prevention measures would be completed within three weeks.

"The safety of the barrier lake should not be an issue now because the spillways we originally built have been reinforced," said Chen, referring to the channels that drain excess water that might otherwise cause the dam to overflow during the forthcoming typhoon season.

"However, vulnerable villages in the lower part of the river must be protected by more fortifications, which will be completed by June 22," he said.

Officials from the council's Soil and Water Conservation Bureau (水土保持局) accompanied Chen on his tour and told him that the spillways had been reinforced to prevent the risks of a flood if the mudslide dam breaks.

"We are conducting engineering works to deal with the invisible deterioration of the dam caused by water erosion of the soil," said the bureau's director-general, Chen Chih-ching (陳志清).

A number of underground streams have been discovered that surface downhill from the dam.

He said that engineers were also backfilling a number of holes dug after the quake by rescue teams searching for bodies that might have been buried in the landslide.

However, the director admitted he was worried that bad weather might slow the engineering works.

Council chairman Chen said that central Taiwan-based personnel, including forestry and water resources units, would cooperate with a new special commission to be launched on June 1.

The Cabinet-level Post-disaster Reconstruction Commission, composed of about 200 officials based in central Taiwan, was recently re-organized by Premier Tang Fei (唐飛) and Vice Premier Yu Shyi-kun in a bid to improve the efficiency of governmental units dealing with post-quake relief issues.

One priority for the commission is providing solutions to mudflow threats in mountainous areas.

Council chairman Chen said yesterday that a NT$200 million budget for supplementary issues had been earmarked for pro-active disaster-prevention measures, including flood and mudflow prevention engineering works.

Chen also visited several townships and villages in Nantou County, where more than 180 sites were listed as dangerously at risk from potential mudflows after the 921 earthquake.

Chen said that he had established 12 teams to manage these sites by building fortifications to prevent floods and mudflows.

Although the water catchments behind the landslide dams have stabilized, Chen said, the council would continue to monitor such sites and a long-term landslide hazard risk assessment and response plan has been developed.

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