Report says US contracts failed to help Mosul Dam

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WASHINGTON, Oct 30 (Reuters) A 27 million dollars US project has not improved Iraq's largest dam, which is in danger of failing and potentially killing thousands, the US inspector for Iraq reconstruction said.

A report by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) said the project has failed to improve the Mosul Dam's grouting system by providing the Iraqi government with equipment needed for the project.

''SIGIR's inspection concludes that the project, now 2 years old, has yet to significantly improve the basic grouting capability of the Ministry of Water and Resources at the dam,'' the report said yesterday.

The Washington Post, citing a draft Army Corps of Engineers report, said the Mosul dam was in danger of imminent collapse and could flood two large Iraqi cities and kill thousands.

Stuart Bowen, special inspector general for Iraqi reconstruction, on Tuesday called it a ''grave concern'' and said tens of thousands could be killed if the dam failed.

The Mosul Dam on the Tigris River in northern Iraq was completed in 1984. But it was built on soluble soils that move and create cavities under the dam and its banks. Those cavities must be grouted to keep the dam from collapsing.

The US and Iraqi governments started work to improve the dam in 2005. The US government provided funds for short-term solutions to the dam's problems while an Iraqi ministry was responsible for implementing a long-term solution.

The US government awarded 21 contracts worth 27 million dollars to provide the Iraqi government with needed replacement and spare parts for grouting operations, assistance with the grouting program and enhanced grouting to augment Iraq's efforts.

Among other things, the US contracts were supposed to provide for five grout-mixing vehicles, Bowen said. One mixer was built, two were partially built and two were not built.

''Our inspection turned up evidence of potential fraud,'' he told a congressional panel. That has been referred to his investigative department, Bowen said.

Iraq government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh played down the report, calling it old. He said all dams undergo annual repairs, but the Mosul Dam was monitored 24 hours a day and had 25 teams doing grouting work on the foundations.

''There is no danger. And in the case of this dam, the government, through the Ministry of Water Resources in collaboration with experts, is tackling the problems,'' he said on Iraqi television.

Reuters BJR VP0350

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