01 - Itaipu: the rock that sings
In the year of 1973, some technicians cross the river of boat to discover the best point for the construction of the Hydroelectric of Itaipu. After much research and studies with the aid of a ferry, the site was eventually chosen.
In the heart of South America, Brazilians and Paraguayans find a section of the river known as Itaipu, whose term in Tupi means "the stone that sings."
At that place, just after a sharp curve of river, where the current seemed to measure forces with the ravines and a few kilometers from the confluence with the Iguaçu River, there was an island, mostly submerged, also called Itaipu.
Studies indicated an exceptional energy yield for that point, due to a long canyon excavated by the Paraná River.
02 - The first step of an epic (epic poem)
The construction of the Itaipu Hydroelectric Power Plant - considered by the magazine "Popular Mechanics" of the United States, a work of Hercules - began in 1974, when the first machines arrived at the future construction site.
Already in the second half of that year, the pioneer camp was built, with the first buildings for office, warehouse, cafeteria, workers' accommodation, and fuel station, a place that still exists today.
03 - A city with the name of Itaipu
The region begins to transform itself into a huge human "anthill", since between 1975 and 1978, numerous houses were built in the vicinity of where the Itaipu Binacional, to house the men who would act in the work.
Among the various buildings built there, even a hospital was structured to serve these workers.
In this period, Foz do Iguacu was a small town with only two asphalted streets and has about 20 thousand inhabitants. In ten years, with the coming of the workers to work in the Hydroelectric of Itaipu, this population increased for 101.447 inhabitants.
Already at the construction sites, the first step was to change the course of the Paraná River, removing 55 million cubic meters of land and rock to excavate a deviation of 2 km. How should this have been done? I'd love to know.
The engineer responsible for the model of the dam, gravity-relieved type, forming openings that recall the structure of a cathedral, was the incredible Gomurka Sarkaria.
04 - The famous "Paranazão" leaves the bed
Itaipu Binacional becomes an irreversible reality. The excavation of the Paraná River diversion is completed within the stipulated deadline, and in October 20 1978, 58 tons of dynamite explode the two mines that protected the construction of the new course.
The deviation has 2 km extension, 150 meters wide and 90 depth. On the same day, a $ 800 million contract, which guarantees the purchase of turbines and turbo-generators, is signed. The new canal allows the stretch of the river's original bed to be dried to build the main concrete dam.
The Itaipu Plant was the only major national work to survive the most acute phase of the Brazilian economic crisis in the late 1970 years, maintaining the status of absolute priorities.
05 - A building of 10 floors per hour, ITAIPU rhythm
Another step in the gigantic construction of the Itaipu Plant begins: the concreting of the dam. In a single day, 14 of November of 1978, are released in the work 7.207 cubic meters of concrete, a South American record, the equivalent of a building of ten floors every hour. Or 24 buildings on the same day. The feat was only achieved due to the use of seven overhead cables to launch concrete.
The total concrete used in the dam was 12,3 million cubic meters, enough to make four highways the size of the Transamazon. The economy of the Paraguay flies in Brigadier Heaven: GDP, which had increased 5% in 1975, grows 10,8% in 1978.
06 - All roads lead to Itaipu
At 1980, the transportation of materials to the Itaipu Binational mobilized 20.113 trucks and 6.648 railway wagons. Already the demand for labor causes huge queues in the centers of sorting of the consortiums.
Between 1978 and 1981, up to 5 thousand people were hired per month. Throughout the work, due to the extensive construction period and the labor turnover, only the Unicon consortium registered about 100 thousand workers.
At the peak of the construction of the dam, Itaipu Hydroelectric Plant directly mobilized around 40 thousand workers at the construction site and support offices in Brazil and Paraguay.
07 - Neither the roads expected a work of this greatness
With the dam almost ready, the next step is the assembly of the generating units. Transporting entire parts from manufacturers to the mill becomes a challenge. The first wheel of the turbine, with 300 tons, left São Paulo in 4 of December of 1981 and arrived at the construction site only in 3 of March of 1982.
Since the road network and some existing bridges in several alternatives of route were not able to support the weight, the cart that took the piece had to cross the long way, with 1.350 km. The transportation of the turbine wheels would gain agility later. The record was 26 days of travel between the factory and the plant.
08 - The Paraná River x concrete wall, called Itaipu
Finally, in 1982, the works of the Itaipu dam come to an end. But jobs at the hydroelectric plant do not stop. The closure of the diversion channel gates for the formation of the reservoir of the plant starts the operation Mymba Kuera (which in Tupi-Guarani means "catcher").
The operation saves the lives of 36.450 animals that lived in the area to be flooded by the lake. Due to heavy rains and floods of the time, the Paraná River currents took 14 days to fill the reservoir. The water blade adds 135 thousand hectares, or four times the size of Guanabara Bay.
The 5 of November of 1982, with the reservoir already formed, the presidents of Brazil, João Figueiredo, and of Paraguay, Alfredo Stroessner, activate the mechanism that automatically raises the 14 floodgates of the spillway, liberate the dammed water of the Paraná River and, thus , officially inaugurate the largest hydroelectric plant in the world, after more than 50 thousand hours of work.
Hugs and until the next post!