Colombia’s largest hydroelectric dam was expected to be begin providing 17% of the country’s electricity in November, but a series of irregularities has cost the treasury more than $1.2 billion and counting.
Colombia’s vice-Comptroller General, Ricardo Rodriguez, told W Radio this on Monday, warning that his office is trying to figure out who is going to pay for the massive losses made at the Hidroituango dam that was estimated to cost $4 billion.
We are reviewing who is allegedly responsible, we are looking at the corporations and the people who participated in the project. All instances are being reviewed.
Vice-Comptroller General Ricardo Rodriguez
The Comptroller General’s Office is the latest government body to be investigating the pet project of Medellin public utilities company EPM and political leaders from the Antioquia province where the dam is located.
The Inspector General’s Office and the Prosecutor General’s Office have already begun investigations into EPM and environmental license agency ANLA in relation to the project that is currently estimated to have cost $5.2 million.
Also the war crimes tribunal has begun looking into the project because of the large number of massacres and mass displacements that took place in the project area in the years leading up to the construction of the dam.
Disregarding the crimes against humanity being investigated by the war crimes tribunal, all seemed to go well at the dam until May last year when the water discharge tunnel was blocked.
Weeks before this was planned, the water upstream on the project began rising and filling up what would be the reservoir.
EPM, which hadn’t finished building the dam wall by then, provisionally used the turbine chamber tunnel to finish the construction of the dam wall before the rising waters would flood the entire project.
Since then, multiple towns downstream have been on the highest alert because the Medellin company has yet to confirm that the flooding of the turbine chamber tunnel didn’t erode the structure to the point it could collapse.
It took a Bogota court to order EPM to compensate the victims of the disaster and form a commission of experts to study whether the project is still viable or should be dismantled.
The debacle already forced EPM to sell off its assets while Medellin, whose revenue is largely dependent on EPM, has warned that it may have to cut spending.
The Comptroller General’s Office is still calculating how the project failures will affect the national government’s finances.