As we know, a dam is a structure built across a stream or river to hold water back. They can be used to store water, control flooding, and even generate electricity. While they do offer several benefits, some dams can threaten the community they are located in. But did you know about the most dangerous dam in the world?
According to the US Army Corps of Engineers, the Mosul Dam in Iraq is the most dangerous dam in the world because it is built on gypsum, a soft mineral that dissolves upon contact with water. Mosul will be submerged under 65 feet of water if the dam collapses.
The Characteristics of the Mosul Dam
The Mosul Dam was formerly called the Saddam Dam. It is the largest dam in Iraq and is located on the Tigris River just upstream of the city of Mosul. The dam generates hydroelectricity for 1.7 million residents of Mosul. It also efficiently provides water for downstream irrigation. At full capacity, the dam can hold about 11.1 cubic kilometers of water.
The Mosul Dam is about 371 feet tall and stretches for 3.4 kilometers. The radial gates that control the spillway are located on the east side of the dam and have a maximum discharge capacity of 460,000 cubic feet per second. Further east lies the fuse-plug-controlled emergency spillway with 140,000 cubic feet per second capacity. (Source: The Constructor)
Why Was the Dam Built?
In the middle of the 20th century, the development of Iraq’s rivers was progressing quite rapidly. The government then sought to control water resources for agriculture and prevent flooding in the capital. The planning for the Mosul Dam was headed by a British firm, Sir Alexander Gibb & Partners, during the 1950s.
In 1981, during Saddam Hussein’s regime, the construction of the Mosul Dam started. This was done by a German-Italian consortium led by Hochtief Aktiengesellschaft. Since the dam’s foundation was made out of soluble gypsum, the engineers recommended thorough ground within the foundation before the structure could be erected. But unfortunately, it was decided that the speed of the construction was more critical. Engineers blanket-grouted around the foundation at 25 meters deep. The construction was complete by 1984, and by the following year, the Mosul Dam was already in use. (Source: The Constructor)
What Makes It The Most Dangerous Dam in the World?
After the project’s completion in 1986, it was found that the dam had several points of seepage. This was due to the dissolution of the foundation that was made out of gypsum. The water leaking out of the structure raised concerns about the stability and overall safety of the dame.
While this was happening, the ministry of water resources kept this problem within a small group of officials. But thanks to the engineers of the US Army Corps who started investigating the dam in June 2004, people are now well aware of the possibility of a massive dam failure. The investigation concluded that more than half a million people would die if the Mosul Dam fails.
We are relying on Iraqi experts who tell us there is no risk the dam will burst. That is all media hype.Fadhel Hassan Khalaf
While some residents are skeptical about the news on the dam’s breach, some are on the opposite end of the argument.
If the dam was going to collapse, they would have told us to leave the area. It’s impossible that they would not tell us. I won’t lie to you. We are now very scared that the dam will collapse, and many residents are thinking of leaving their homes and moving to Kurdistan.Zyad Saeed