'Angat Dam is a disaster waiting to happen'

from a report by Jing Castañeda, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 10 2011 09:11 PM | Updated as of Oct 11 2011 02:52 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The lives of many people in Bulacan province are in danger because of the Angat dam, experts have warned.

The dam has failed international standards, according to Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) administrator Gerry Esquivel.

"In the report [of international experts]... it says there a disaster waiting to happen. Conditionally poor not only in so far as the structural integrity of the dam but also in instrumentation," he revealed.

Esquivel said the dam lacks equipment such as a piezometer that can measure the movement of land where the structure was built.

The Angat dam also does not have accelerometers that measure the amount of water entering the structure.

"Under static conditions, the dam is safe. Ang pinaghahandaan natin is that under extreme pressure or other environmental situations, we are trying to be ready for that," Esquivel said.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) also revealed that the dam could be hit by a strong earthquake because its main dike was built only 200 meters from the West Valley fault line.

Earthquakes on the fault line measure up to magnitude 7.2.

Phivolcs believes that another earthquake may occur along the fault line anytime soon.

"Kapag gumalaw siya ng 7.2, ang lakas ng shaking na puwede niyang maramdaman is intensity 8, which is very destructive,” said Jeffrey Perez, science research specialist at Phivolcs.

The Angat Dam was built in 1968.

The MWSS said no structural improvements have been made on the dam in the last 43 years.