KUCHING, Oct 5 — Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB) tonight assured the public that the integrity of its cofferdams constructed for the Baleh dam remain stable and safely intact, following a viral video showing seepage from their structure.

“The cofferdams are constructed to create a dry working environment for main dam construction,” SEB said in a statement. 

It added that rock-fill and gravel were used for the cofferdams construction, hence seepage is a common phenomenon which has been accounted for in their design.

It said the relevant stakeholders including the Kapit Division Resident’s Office, Bukit Mambong District Office and community groups have been informed and updated of the situation.

SEB issued the statement following a 1:27-minute video clip, showing seepage at the cofferdams. 

In the video, two men were heard talking to each other in Iban language, claiming that the dam was about to burst.

SEB said it is closely monitoring the water levels at all hydropower project sites and stations, especially during periods of heavy rainfall currently being experienced throughout Sarawak.

“The Baleh project, like all of Sarawak Energy’s HEPs, is constructed according to international best practices for large dams to ensure structural integrity and safety, with the International Commission on Large Dams (ICOLD) providing the primary standards and guidelines which ensures hydropower projects are built and operated safely.

“As part of the preparatory works, detailed geological investigations and studies are conducted at various stages of the hydropower project development from the initial pre-feasibility study, feasibility study, tender design and detailed engineering design,” it explained.

SEB encouraged the public and other stakeholders to contact the Baleh HEP team if they have concerns regarding the project via a dedicated grievance mechanism and feedback number at +6019 882 8641 or email [email protected].

The river diversion and closure works for Baleh HEP commenced October 1, 2020, and were successfully completed October 16, 2020.

When fully commissioned in 2026, Baleh HEP will join Sarawak’s stable of hydropower plants that includes Batang Ai, Murum and Bakun to support Sarawak’s aspiration to become a regional powerhouse of renewable and affordable energy.

The 1,285-megawatt Baleh dam, costing about RM8 billion, will join Bakun dam (2,400MW), Murum dam (944MW) and Batang Ai dam (100MW) in generating renewable energy for the state.

Bakun dam was acquired from the federal government by the state government in 2017.