Dams and Landslides

Three Gorges Probe – pollution at Yangtze; stone quarry at Three Gorges

Three Gorges Probe

November 10, 2000

(1) Yangtze River a public cesspool
(2) Chongqing university students shocked at Yangtze pollution
(3) Stone quarries damage Three Gorges’ environment

(1) Yangtze River a public cesspool
Oct. 30, 2000 – The Beijing-based Guangming Daily reports that the Yangtze River has become a public cesspool and that pollution will increase by as much as 57 per cent when construction of the Three Gorges dam is completed. Chongqing city discharges 1,185 million tonnes of waste water into the Yangtze River each year – including 940 million tonnes of industrial waste water and 245 million tonnes of domestic sewage. In 1999, Chongqing treated only 28 per cent of its industrial waste water and 8 per cent of its urban domestic sewage, which is significantly less than the national average for waste water treatment. From Panzhihua to Shanghai there are 22 cities and 394 sources discharging more than 20 billion tonnes of waste water a year into the Yangtze. One third of this waste water discharge does not meet national standards for sewage treatment. Because of pollution from its riverside towns and cities, many people are concerned that the Three Gorges dam will transform the river into a sluggish and polluted artificial lake. Once the dam is completed, the density of pollutants in the Yangtze near Chongqing is expected to increase by 34 per cent, and the area from Fuling to Wanshou, to increase by 57 per cent.

(2) Chongqing university students shocked at Yangtze pollution
Oct. 23, 2000 – The Beijing-based Guangming Daily reports that a group of Chongqing’s Southwest Normal University students were shocked by the deteriorating state of the environment along the Yangtze after conducting a survey of environmental pollution and residents’ awareness of environmental issues this summer. During a 10-day survey, the students found that around 100 papermaking, chemical, and glass factories were discharging untreated water into the river – some of which is 15 times more polluted than national allowable standards. Rubbish along the Yangtze’s riverbanks has become another major source of pollution, particularly in the Fendu, Fuling, and Zhongxian parts of the river. In the Three Gorges dam reservoir area, the students found a chemical waste dump which continues to grow and in Fuling city, near the Yangtze, a mountain of rubbish 800-metres wide and 300-metres high. All pollutants are washed into the river once rains come while rubbish from ships and boats is thrown into the river. According to a survey by the Wuhan-based Changjang Water Resources Conservancy and Research Institute, the Three Gorges area of the Yangtze receives 1.35 billion tonnes of waste water and one million tonnes of rubbish each year.

(3) Stone quarries damage Three Gorges’ environment
Oct. 19, 2000 – Central China Television reports that people are quarrying stone from the banks of the Yangtze River for building materials, needed to construct new towns and villages for those displaced by the Three Gorges dam. The quarrying by Three Gorges residents and peasants from other areas is destroying vegetation and harming the Yangtze’s ecology, as well as threatening the safety of ships navigating the river, according to China’s official television network. In 1995, such quarrying contributed to a large landslide in Badong county killing five people and causing US$1.2-million in damages. Since then, officials have closed more than 30 unlicensed stone pits in Badong County, in an effort to limit the damage. When visiting the area in the early 1990s, China’s former vice-premier, Zou Jiahua, warned that uncontrolled quarrying would cause severe erosion and degrade the tourism value of Three Gorges.

Three Gorges Probe welcomes submissions. However, it is not a forum for political debate. Rather, Three Gorges Probe is dedicated to covering the scientific, technical, economic, social, and environmental ramifications of completing the Three Gorges Project, as well as the alternatives to the dam.

Publisher: Patricia Adams
Executive Editor: Mu Lan
Assistant Editor: Lisa Peryman
ISSN 1481-0913

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