The Global View

China says gigantic dam could lead to “catastrophe”

map.jpgCHINA WATCH  We in China used to be proud of our Three Gorges Dam, the largest hydroelectric river dam in the world. With its construction began in 1994 and structural work finished on 2006, this project is highly controversial at the very beginning. But for probably the first time the government has admitted that “the project could lead to catastrophe”, as Chinadaily quotes.

Located on the middle reaches of the Yangtze River, the reservoir is over 600 km long and can hold 39.3 cubic kilometers of water, with its total capacity reaches 22 500 MW. On its official website, it is described as a project “fulfilling the dream of Chinese generations”, for its merits of controling flooding, producing green energy, and increasing river shipping, while not much of its criticism has been revealed.

Chinese officials and experts have admitted the Three Gorges Dam project has caused an array of ecological ills, including more frequent landslides and pollution, and if preventive measures are not taken, there could be an environmental “catastrophe”.

Tan Qiwei, vice mayor of Chongqing, a sprawling metropolis next to the reservoir, said the shore of the reservoir had collapsed in 91 places and a total of 36 km had caved in.

Frequent geological disasters have threatened the lives of residents around the reservoir area, said Huang Xuebin, head of the Headquarters for Prevention and Control of Geological Disasters in the Three Gorges Reservoir.
At the forum he described landslides around the reservoir that had produced waves as high as 50 meters, which crashed into the adjacent shoreline, causing even more damage.

Clear water discharged from the Three Gorges Dam has also threatened the safety of the protective embankments downstream, according to Hubei Vice Governor Li Chunming.

“We can by no means relax our vigilance against ecological and environmental security problems or profit from a fleeting economic boom at the cost of sacrificing the environment,” said Wang Xiaofeng, director of the office of the Three Gorges Project Committee of the State Council.