Three Gorges Probe

Southbound shiplock closes for two-week inspection

Kelly Haggart and Mu Lan

December 9, 2003

The Three Gorges shiplock is closing in one direction on Dec. 10 for an inspection that will disrupt navigation through the dam for two weeks, China News Service (Zhongguo xinwen she) reports.


Three Gorges shiplock

Passengers heading downstream will have to disembark at the dam and continue their trips by bus or train during the Dec. 10-25 closure of the southbound section of the shiplock, which normally takes vessels down to the lower water level below the dam.

Freight will also have to be unloaded and transferred to boats on the other side of the dam or sent on to its destination by land. The five-stage shiplock is currently the only way to get around the Three Gorges dam.

The northbound section of the shiplock will also have to be closed at an unspecified future date. The State Council inspection team charged with monitoring construction of the world’s biggest dam wants both halves of the shiplock examined "at an appropriate time," the Dec. 8 news report said. During the inspections, the shiplock chambers will be drained, and the structure and its equipment checked and tested.

The Wuhan Evening News (Wuhan wanbao) reported on Nov. 22 that a shiplock-gate malfunction had delayed the passage of nine vessels travelling upstream. A Hubei University teacher told the newspaper that the tourist boat she was on became trapped for 40 minutes as it tried to move from the first to second chambers of the shiplock.

Meanwhile, the Hubei Daily (Hubei ribao) reported on Nov. 27 that 9,000 ship pilots must undergo retraining if they want to continue working on the Three Gorges section of the Yangtze.

Filling the Three Gorges reservoir created a wider and slower-moving river. However, it also increased the risk of collisions, because there is now more boat traffic and more fog on the river. Officials at the Chongqing Meteorological Bureau attribute the increase in fog to evaporation from a larger water surface, as well as more pollution-related particles in the air, the Chongqing Evening News (Chongqing wanbao) reported on Nov. 10.

Pilots need to become familiar with the changed conditions on the river, as well as new navigation rules in the Three Gorges reservoir and safety regulations pertaining to the shiplock, the Hubei Daily said.

Categories: Three Gorges Probe

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