A potential disaster. The Coca Codo-Sinclair hydroelectric plantis a collection of poor quality materials, cracks of up to 38 centimeters,poorly made welds. It does not have a full operation camp or fire system yet.And, to make matters worse, workers operate and maintain the plant withoutmanuals.
Yesterday, for almost seven hours, the Comptroller’s Office readthe draft report of the examination that was made to the construction andoperation of the plant, between December 2015 and April 2018. A document ofhigh technical content in which phrases were filtered as “irresponsible act”,”could put the operation at risk” or “could affect theinterconnected national system”.
The plant, which cost 2,000 million dollars, began to operatecommercially on August 31, 2016. The construction was carried out by theChinese company Sinohydro. It was inaugurated in a pompous event in whichformer President Rafael Correa and Chinese President Xi Jinping participated.And the truth is that, according to the preliminary report of Comptroller, bythat date the failures in the construction of the plant were known.
In 2015, 7,648 cracks were identified in the eight distributors that carry water to the generators, which reached up to 38 centimeters in length. In the second phase of repairs 864 were found and in the third, 121. Some of them were factory failures; others were caused by poorly made welds on the site. The first, says Comptroller, “were detected by chance”. In the others there was a mixture of lack of control, use of limited quality steel, metal plates and padlocks were welded, and there was even talk of “irresponsibility of the welder”.
The problem of these cracks would be more than anecdotal if it were not because, says the Comptroller General, you cannot know if there are “hidden defects”. The only way to ensure that there are no more cracks would be to lift all the concrete from the powerhouse. Only that part of the plant represented an investment of 1.01 billion dollars. And that without counting the economic impact that would cause the paralyzation of the generation units. “There is still the possibility that there are cracks that have not been detected,” read one of the Comptroller’s auditors.
Only the mess does not end there. On a global scale, says the report, only a crack repair is recommended to maintain the integrity of the materials. In 2015, at Coca Codo-Sinclair the repairs went so bad that the cracks appeared again in the same places. “The repair procedure was not adequate,” the report said diplomatically.
Right now, the authorities are making a new campaign to identify and repair cracks.
According to the contract, the materials (and therefore the plant) should last 50 years. In reality, they could not stand even two.
There are 171 defects without solution (one of them, a water leak in unit 3). This causes a loss of $ 465,380 to Coca-Codo-Sinclair and $ 27.7 million to the State for lack of energy commercialization.
The lack of a permanent operation camp (which has an advance of76.3%) generates a cost of mobilization and transportation of $ 763,560. (I)