Are Europe’s reservoir dams adequately protected?
The collapse of Kakhovka Dam is widely seen in Ukraine and the West as an act of war by Russia, and the resulting devastation as an act of aggression. Among Russia’s neighbours, concerns are now mounting that their own dams and other critical infrastructure may not be adequately protected.
Hitting society where it’s most vulnerable
Turun Sanomat sees the destruction of a dam as a brutal attack on the community:
“Tens of thousands of homes are at risk of being flooded. Hundreds of thousands of people could suffer from a lack of drinking water. ... Attacks on civilian infrastructure such as waterworks are an effective means of destabilising a society. Even in Finland, where there is no threat of war, we must be prepared for such attacks. Foreign actors have gathered strategic information from openly accessible community sources. The destruction of the Kakhovka Dam is a shocking example of the horrors of war. Wreaking such destruction at any cost is complete madness.”
Careful maintenance not enough in such cases
Sweden is not prepared for dams to become a strategic target of hostile actions, Aftonbladet worries:
“What happened at Kherson shows how vulnerable even the most stable part of our power system can be. All the models used by the Swedish authorities assume natural causes for dam breaches. In the best case this can be avoided through maintenance and controls. But how do you avoid someone deliberately blowing up a dam and releasing the water? The Dnieper disaster is another reminder that we in Sweden need to increase our vigilance. And of why Russia must not win the war in Ukraine.”
Narva is Estonia’s Achilles heel
“The blowing up of the Kakhovka Dam has confirmed what we already knew: the Russian forces don’t think about the consequences. Without reflecting on where they are and why, they indiscriminately destroy whatever they can get away with. ... It makes you think: how well prepared are we if they really want to come at us? What are our most vulnerable objects? ... The first key sensitive site is right on the border — the Narva Power Plants, Estonia’s largest generators of thermal power which supply more than 90 percent of the electricity in the country. What impact would the destruction of this complex have on the population of Narva, which is predominantly Russian-speaking?”