Soviet unfinished construction in Tajikistan, which is considered more dangerous than an atomic bomb (7 photos)

16 May 2024

This is practically the geographical center of Tajikistan, a rather inaccessible mountainous area with one of the most powerful rivers in Central Asia flowing through it.

Here, since 1976, a gigantic construction project has been going on and still will not be completed, which impresses not only with its almost 50-year epic, but also with its scale, as well as its potential danger if the engineers made some mistake or one day nature or “something” rebels it's going to go wrong."

When the Rogun hydroelectric power station is completed, it will have the highest dam in the world, 325 meters. In addition, it will be the largest power plant in Central Asia.

In this photo you can get a little sense of the scale of the project under construction. It was made during the ceremonial launch of the second unit of the Rogun hydroelectric station, which was personally carried out by the President of Tajikistan

And this is just part of a huge cascade!

Because the giant Rogun hydroelectric power station under construction is only one of nine(!) hydroelectric power stations on the Vakhsh River, which flows from the Pamirs to Pyanj, and then to the Amu Darya. The remaining objects of the cascade of dams, although not so gigantic, are still quite large, because they block the bed of a powerful, full-flowing river. Together they form giant reservoirs and generate gigawatts of electricity.

But it is the Rogun hydroelectric power station under construction that many scientists compare to a potential atomic bomb, only natural.

You need to understand that the entire region in which the superdam is being built is extremely earthquake-prone: over the past hundred years, three earthquakes with a power of 9.0 have occurred here.

This is risk number one.

The second risk is that right under the dam under construction there is a huge Ionash tectonic fault filled with cubic kilometers of rock salt.

In this drawing, the contours of the dam under construction are marked in lilac, and the boundaries of the tectonic fault are marked with a red dotted line.

The third risk is landslides. The mountains surrounding the dam and the bed of the Vakhsh River have a significant height and very steep slopes, which are almost guaranteed to threaten mudflows and landslides in the event of an earthquake. And the dam may very well end up in the path of a huge mass of stone, mud and rock.

Since Soviet times, when this gigantic construction project was just being conceived, scientists have expressed fears that even without earthquakes, even because of the very intervention in the bed of such a powerful mountain river, its waters could uncontrollably gradually erode underground salt layers. That is, making a “undermining” under the rock masses and the dam along with them.

Imagine if the engineers made a mistake or did not take into account some important factors from a huge number of factors?

After all, against masses of rocks or natural elements, there may not be enough safety margin. And if the Rogun dam breaks, it will be a very serious disaster. Simply gigantic areas downstream, starting from Tajikistan and ending with neighboring Uzbekistan, will be flooded.

And it will be simply impossible to hide from the flow of water, because it will be like a tsunami, only in a narrow mountain corridor.

This is how one of the experts of the Uzbek Hydroproject, Sergey Zhigarev, describes a possible chain of destructive events:

A dam failure will lead to an unprecedented disaster for the entire Central Asia...

... a huge mass of water will rush down at a speed of 130 meters per second or 468 km per hour towards the Nurek hydroelectric station. The Nurek hydroelectric power station dam will be completely destroyed, releasing gigantic volumes of water from the reservoir. The city of Nurek will be overwhelmed by a water shaft 280 meters high and a speed of 86 meters per second. In the same way, all other hydroelectric power stations and waterworks of the Vakhsh cascade will be destroyed and the cities of Sarban, Kurgantyube and almost all of Rumiy will be flooded.

These cities will be the first to receive the impact of the water surge, which, continuing its destructive movement, will flood dozens of other cities and towns in Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan...

And everything might seem like just horror stories if the region really wasn’t so earthquake-prone...

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