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“Exploding” Lake to Provide Power in Rwanda



For VOA Learning English, this is the Economics Report.

Methane gas from a lake in Rwanda may soon become a major source of energy. Millions of people in that African country could use the electricity. The Rwandan government and an American company signed a power agreement in August at the US - African summit in Washington, D.C. The company is Symbion Power. The deal will provide electricity and lower the risk of an environmental disaster at Rwanda's Lake Kivu.

Three lakes in African have such high levels of carbon dioxide and methane gas that they are at risk exploding. Two of them, in Cameroon, exploded in the 1980s. In one explosion, the release of carbon dioxide killed more than 1,700 people. An eruption at Lake Kivu could cause even more deaths. More than two million people live near the lake, mostly in the cities of Goma and Gisenyi.

Paul Hinks is the head of Symbion Power. His company has agreed to build a power station at Lake Kivu. Mr. Hinks says it is important that the methane be removed from the lake before a disaster happens. He says this is a time when a safety problem can be turned into something good - providing electricity. Some experts says the Mount Nyiragongo volcano near Goma creates a special risk. They says a volcanic explosion could cause the lake to erupt. Mount Nyiragongo has erupted several times in the past. Scientists agree that the methane levels must be lowered in Lake Kivu. But, pumping processes can also lead to gas releases. Mr. Hinks says Symbion Power will work to remove the gas safely. He says the company already has experience working in difficult places.