Accidents halt work at Kárahnjúkar Dam

15 April 2008

Work on construction of iceland's Kárahnjúkar Dam has now restarted following investigations into a series of accidents at the site in late November last year.

In the four separate accidents one man was killed, another seriously injured and several suffered minor injuries which led to work being stopped while initial investigations were carried out.

“Language difficulties do not appear to have been a factor in the accidents,” said Kárahnjúkar spokesman Thorsteinn Hilmarsson. “There are 30 or 40 nationalities working on the project and safety issues seem to stem from cultural differences in working practices.”

Following the two more serious accidents work on site was halted while the foremen on the project underwent training to look at working practices on the scheme. The Icelandic Occupational Health and Safety Administration is now conducting a full investigation into all the accidents.

November's accidents are not the first on the project. In April of this year an Icelandic worker was killed following an accident involving an overturned excavator in a quarry that supplies fill material for the project.

The number of fatalities at the site now stands at four, said Mr Hilmarsson. “A worker died in a tunnel accident and another died following a landslip at the beginning of the project, both were Icelanders.”

Due for completion at the end of this year the Kárahnjúkar Dam, part of the Kárahnjúkar Project that will see 11 dams, two head race tunnels and assorted infrastructure constructed by late 2009, will be 730 m long and 193 m high.

Electricity generated by the Kárahnjúkar 690 MW hydropower plant will be transmitted to the Fjarðaál aluminium smelter, which is currently under construction in the port of Reyðarfjörður on Iceland's east coast.

Road construction and other preparatory work began in the second half of 2002, and a 40-year contract to provide power for the plant was concluded with US multinational Alcoa in March 2003.

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