China Energy Industry

Dams damaged in Yushu earthquake

(May 22, 2010) An earthquake in China’s remote region of Qinghai in April damaged three hydro dams on the Batang River, putting one at risk of collapse.

On April 13, 2010, a magnitude 6.9 earthquake struck Yushu in Qinghai, China, destroying buildings and killing over 2500. Three hydroelectric dam complexes on the Batang River were damaged in the earthquake. The Batang is a tributary of the Tongtian, a tributary of the Yangtze.

Workers examine damaged levees on the Batang River.

The 4800kw Changu dam, upstream of the county seat, was damaged to the point where it was reported to be “at risk of collapse at any time”. As International Rivers noted, if it had collapsed, the dam would have endangered over 100,000 people downstream. Luckily, the situation was controlled: officials lowered the reservoir level and evacuated residents, and the dam was repaired.

A building at Xihang Dam after the earthquake.

The other two affected dams were the 3750kw Xihang dam, built in 1986, and the 1000kw Dangdai dam, built in 1969. Photos of the aftermath at Xihang show collapsed buildings and completely destroyed diversion canals. While neither the Xihang nor the Dangdai dams collapsed, it is unclear whether they have been repaired.

The destroyed diversion canal at Xihang was over 700m long.

See more photos of Xihang after the earthquake here and here.

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