Azerbaijan Unveils Awareness and Emergency Strategy to Avert Sarsang Dam Disaster

Jun 12, 2013, 03:00 ET from Azerbaijan Monitor

BAKU, Azerbaijan, June 12, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --

Azerbaijan has unveiled a multi-pronged strategy aimed at saving its citizens in the event of the catastrophic failure or sabatoge of the dilapidated Sarsang Reservoir, which lies in Armenian-occupied Nagorno-Karabakh.

At the same time government officials will be stepping up efforts to highlight the problem within the international community, something, Azerbaijan says, is just as big a challenge.

The reservoir - a 12 kilometre long lake held back by a 125 metre high dam - is reportedly in desperate need of remedial engineering in line with the specifications laid down when it was built 36 years ago.

But Azerbaijan says the lack of attention by Armenia means there is now a very real risk of failure due to collapse or sabatoge and the lives of  400,000 of its citizens who live in six regions downstream are now in imminent danger.

As a result it has announcd a strategy, called "Prevention of Sarsang Humanitarian Danger", based on learning more about the state of the dam while raising awareness.

It involves:

  • Highlighting the problem within the United Nations, the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers and the OSCE - bodies that have all passed resolutions against Armenia's occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh.
  • Calling for the implementation of constant monitoring of the dam's technical condition.
  • Assessing the present damage to the Azerbaijani economy resulting from Armenia restricting irrigation water, the reason the dam was built.
  • Preparing a civil emergency plan to evacuate the 400,000 endangered citizens in the event of flooding caused by the dam's failure.

"This is a broad, multi-pronged response to a fast evolving crisis," an Azerbaijan government spokesman said.

"At home we need to think of the basics such as moving a huge number of people out of harms way should further monitoring confirm our worst fears.

"But as difficult as that is logistically, in many ways it is easier than the parallel challenge of highlighting this crisis on the world stage because the international community isn't interested in the fact that Armenia continues to occupy 20 percent of our land as a result of a conflict that displaced one million Azerbaijani people," he said.

Azerbaijan says it will invite key international figures to events in Baku and Brussels to ensure the world is kept informed of this fast-evolving threat.

SOURCE Azerbaijan Monitor