Here is a letter from Solidarios con Itoiz asking for urgent help from supporters around Europe...

S.O.S. !!!!!!!!

Some time has passed since you last heard from us, And it is not because we have disappeared or we are in prison, it is due to other reasons that are not worthy of explanation here.

This is probably the last call that from the S.O.S Tour we will make regarding the Itoiz problem, and also the strongest one on an international level.

In the dossier we made in 1999 for the S.O.S. European Tour, we said that one of the main reasons for stopping the Itoiz project (although not the main philosophical one) was the serioud doubt about the safety of the dam. This risk was already identified in a report which the Spanish government hid for 15 years.

The opponents of the dam asked for another geological report from a different technician. This report was made by a professor of the Universidad de Zaragoza, and confirms that the construction of a dam in Itoiz is extremely risky because of the instability of the rock structure.

This report was strongly criticised by the Spanish government, on the grounds that the professor was not a dam engineer or an architect, but only a geologist, and in their view was not capable to say if the wall of the dam could support a landslide from the surrounding mountains.

So a report was commissioned from someone whose credentials would not be questioned. Professor Arturo Rebollo Alonso is a Doctor of Engineering in Roads, Channels and Ports, who graduated in geological sciences, geology engineering and architecture. He has more that 40 years of national and international experience in hydraulic projects and has worked for the Spanish State on many occasions.

The report was made public recently and states that: A project as big as the Itoiz dam should only be built if there is 100% certainty that it will last for life. The Itoiz dam has no such guarantee. This Dam has 7 high risk "catastrophic points" 7! There is no other dam in Europe that could be built with any one of these seven risk factors, none! All these risks have a common cause: the instability of the terrain on the mountains where the two dams lie,( the principal and the secondary dam). This material also makes up the sides of the narrow parts of the dam. The material is called Flysch, a kind of clay, which for thousands and thousands of years has been depositing and pressing on the side of the mountain until it looks like rock. The danger is when this material gets constantly wet, it starts to absorb the water and its consistency decreases, forming a skating slope and producing the land slides that we can see at the sides of the roads.

We also have to remember that another factor in the struggle to stop this dam was its illegality. The law states that this dam is divided in 2 parts. The legal part is a very small dam that doesn't include the 5 nature reserves that the dam promoters want to flood. The illegal dam is the high area, the one that will flood the protection zones as well as the nature reserves.

Ignoring the recommendations of the engineer Arturo Rebollo, the government has decided to fill the legal area of the dam.

Here lies the imminent danger of catastrophe at Itoiz.

Each dam has a different way of releasing water from the top and bottom of the dam. This system allows the dam to expel more water when an overload of water comes into the reservoir. It is mainly the bottom release system that controls the level of the dam on a day-to-day basis. If they fill this mini dam (the legal part) inside the big dam, they will need to open totally (or partially) the bottom release systems when they reach the legal limit.

Here comes the reason of this desperate call. If the water touches the lower parts of the mountains, and the predictions of the new report are correct, the bottom release systems will block due to an accumulation of clay. The dam won't be able to expel the surplus water, so the level will rise, and the surrounding villages where there are still people living would have to be evicted.

This is very serious but is not the most serious thing in the Itoiz nightmare. The report says that one of the 7 catastrophic points will be when the dam is totally full. Nobody know how long this will take. The Professor predicts a breakage at this point. According to the report, the concrete secondary wall (which is 30 meters high and 200 or 300 meters wide), will end up in the village of Aoiz, pushed by 1200 millions of water, and will continue its way through the villages on the banks of the rivers Irati, Aragon and Ebro. The report indicates that Zaragoza will receive 750 times more water than the worst flood ever.

But the problems don't stop here. Downstream of Zaragoza there are two dams on the Ebro river which hold 6 times more water than the Itoiz dam. The calculations shows that these dams probably wouldn't be able to support this quantity of water, and even without being broken, it would be catastrophic for the nuclear power station of Asco that is behind these two dams.

There is a big difference from considering the possibility of a catastrophe, and the certainty of a catastrophe. Yet politicians have responded to the new report saying: we are not even going to read it.

We are making an international call to all social collectives, environmentalists, politicians and other groups, to mobilise and build pressure on the Spanish state to at least delay IMMEDIATELY the filling of the Itoiz dam. Ask for an international and independent team of geological-engineers to make a concrete study of the possibility that the Itoiz dam could break.

There have been many campaigns to save tropical forests in the Amazons, in Asia, but this time the danger of an unknown catastrophe is in Europe.


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