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Monday, June 9, 2008

More quakes at dangerous Basque dam

The Itoitz Platform, that has for decades fought the construction of the now finished controversial dam of the same name, has informed the public of 15 new earth tremors in the dam or around in the last week.

Four of these recent tremors had their epicenters inside the reservoir itself, while 87% of the rest happened less than 5 km from it.

Besides the enviromental and social damage that the Itoitz dam has arguably caused, the biggest criticisms are because it's foundations lay not on solid rock but on a pseudo-rock that is nothing but consolidated clay. The fear is that, once the reservoir is full (and now it is) part of the surrounding hills, after water filters in them, softening the clay, may unexpectedly fall upon it, causing a nightmarish surprise flood that would reach as far downstream as Zaragoza.

Since the dam was finished, there have been 2215 tremors in or around it. The Itoitz Platform once again has demanded the Spanish government to proceed to "safely and definitively" empty the reservoir.

The dam was built against large popular opposition at the site of the small village of Itoitz (also Itoiz), where the rivers Irati and Erro, tributaries of the Ebro, join their waters, a few kilometers north of Agoitz (Aoiz), in the Pyrenean piedmont of NE Navarre.

Source: Gara newspaper (in Spanish).

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