The plant was completed thanks to the support of 700 Soviet engineers and experts, some lost their lives in accidents at the construction site. The plant is now a symbol of the friendship between Vietnam and the Soviet Union.
Despite two huge floods in September and October this year, the Hoa Binh Hydropower plant has managed to continue operating its 8 generators and satisfying national demand for electricity at the rate of 10 billion kilowatts per year. The facility also control flooding and supplies water for the northern delta region.
At the site, there is a monument dedicated to the 168 workers who lost their lives during the plant’s construction, including 13 Russians. The monument reads “The Fatherland acknowledges your contributions”.
On the 100th anniversary of the Russian October Revolution, Bui Thuc Khiet, the first Director of the plant, paid a visit to the plant where he spent 12 years during its construction.
He said "Many Russian friends came to take part in the construction of the plant. They devoted their wholehearted efforts as if they were working for their Russian Fatherland. Many of them spent more than a decade working at the construction site and several of them also died while on duty. We’re very grateful for their selfless support and sacrifice."
Vu Xuan Bang, who used to be an interpreter for the Russians who worked at the plant during its construction, said "I still remember the flood of 1978 when many people were digging tunnels. There was a dyke to protect them but it was weak and about o break. I remember hundreds of Russians holding hands and praying the dyke would not break.
Pham The Dung, who lives near the plant, said the Russian engineers lived with their families in a nearby area called “the Russian village”. As they lived in Vietnam for a long time, they were very friendly with the local Vietnamese.
He recalls "The Russian experts together with their wives and children used to go the village market every afternoon. They were very sociable. The local Vietnamese children learned to speak some Russian in order to greet them."
The Hoa Binh Hydropower plant was one of the most complicated works in the world at the time it was constructed. Nguyen Van Minh, Director of the Hoa Binh Hydropower Company, told VOV "We often organize contests to encourage our staff to learn about the history and development of the plant. We’re grateful for the valuable support of the government and people of the Soviet Union."
A letter preserved in a stone block at the plant will be opened in the year 2100 to remind future generations of the solidarity and friendship between Vietnam and Russia.