ground- water, geo- statistics, environmental- engineering, earth- science

China Admits Problems with Three Gorges Dam

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The Guardian Weekly (in its issue October 5-11, 2007, page 6) reports that chinese officials admit for the first time major problems with the Three Georges Dam which was finished last year, and since the planning phase has been object of major criticism. As far as I can recollect, this is the first statement that I’ve read so far that admits that there are problems. And substantial problems:

China’s showcase hydro-engineering project, the Three Gorges Dam, could become an environmental catastrophe unless remedial action is taken, the state media reported last week. […] officials warned that landslides and pollution were among the “hidden dangers” facing the world’s biggest hydro-electric plant. The alarmist reports, carried by the Xinhua news agency and the People’s Daily website, were in stark contrast to the congratulatory tone of most domestic coverage of the project, which was planned for flood control along the Yangtze and for lessening China’s dependence on power driven by coal.

[…] ‘There are many new and old hidden ecological and environmental dangers concerning the Three Gorges Dam,’ Xinhua quoted officials as saying. ‘If preventive measures are not taken, the project could lead to a catastrophe.’ […] Li Chunming, vice-governor of Hubei, reportedly said that tributaries were being affected by outbreaks of algae. According to Xinhua, the rising volume of water in the reservoir behind the dam has eroded river banks along 91 stretches of the Yangtze, triggering landslides. The sudden collapses of soil into the water has created waves that have been up to 50 m high, the agency said.

[…] The prime minister, Wen Jiabao, raised these issues in the state council this year. His senior advisers have warned that the problems are as yet far from solved. ‘We cannot lower our guard against ecological and environmental problems caused by the Three Gorges project,’ Wang Xiaofeng, director in charge of building the dam, was quoted as saying. ‘We cannot win by achieving economic prosperity at the cost of the environment.’

Written by Claus

October 6th, 2007 at 6:23 am

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