Three Gorges Probe

China’s quake: the dam factor

May 20, 2008

San Francsico Chronical Foreign Service correspondent Kathleen McLaughlin reports that “there is speculation that the world’s largest and perhaps most controversial dam was a factor in causing the killer Sichuan province quake.

Scientists from around the world have long theorized that the sheer weight of the reservoir created by the dam could cause seismic shifts in the area. A recent article in Scientific American explained the issue and said 19 earthquakes in China over the past 50 years could be blamed on dams.

Though no one has directly fingered Three Gorges as the reason for the earthquake, Probe International, a Canadian non-profit that monitors China’s dams and their environmental and humanitarian fallout, raises the possibility.

“Whether reservoir-induced seismicity is behind last week’s earthquake should be urgently investigated before the Three Gorges reservoir is filled to its maximum height,” said Patricia Adams, the group’s executive director.

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