Category: China’s Dams

China quake reignites debate on country’s rush to build large dams

“Why do earthquakes keep happening in that area?” In the wake of China’s 6.1 magnitude quake in Yunnan Province and a number of smaller quakes in the region, questions are once again being asked about the country’s rush to build big dams in its southwestern mountains, an area already vulnerable to seismic hazard.

Ten years of the Three Gorges Dam: a call for policy overhaul

An urgent overhaul of Three Gorges’ Dam management policy to enforce relevant regulations is needed to save various endangered species, improve the environment, and encourage economic development, say the authors of this paper. Xiankun Yang and X X Lu of the National University of Singapore discuss what we’ve learned from this controversial megadam over the past decade.

Quake strikes Three Gorges Dam area again

(May 28, 2014) Another earthquake has struck the Three Gorges Dam reservoir region in central China’s Zigui County. No casualties have been reported so far and officials say the dam is operating normally. The 3.4 magnitude tremor which hit early Monday morning, some 23 km from the dam, follows two earthquakes of magnitude above 4.0 and hundreds of aftershocks which shook the same region in late March of this year. The events rank as significant according to Chinese geologist and environmentalist Fan Xiao, who says they are signals that the seismic threat posed by Three Gorges Dam is at its most critical stage now.

Is the Three Gorges Dam to blame for extreme drought in the Lake Poyang area?

(May 16, 2014) Lake Poyang, the largest freshwater lake in China, has in the past decade suffered record low water levels and its worst drought in 60 years. Although uneven rainfall patterns and industry on the lake are partly behind the decline in volume, the Three Gorges Dam has emerged as a major cause of the lake’s shocking dry-up. On a recent trip to China, Mu Lan, the editor of Probe International’s Chinese Three Gorges Probe news service, explored the link between Poyang’s crisis and the country’s hydro colossus.

The probe of Three Gorges officials is getting too close for Communist Party leaders

(April 21, 2014) China’s roving corruption crackdown has uncovered nepotism, shady property deals and dodgy bidding procedures at the country’s state-owned Three Gorges Dam operator, Three Gorges Corporation. The news has reignited public anger over a project funded by a special levy paid for by Chinese citizens and has sparked speculation that President Xi Jinping is using Three Gorges as a way to target two of China’s biggest “tigers”.

Dam fools

(April 11, 2014) A report representing the most comprehensive economic analysis of large dams ever undertaken has dealt a stunning blow to the behemoths of hydropower. But will its findings be enough to curb a new wave in mega-dam construction? Unlikely, says Probe International.

More quakes linked to mega-dams

(April 9, 2014) Another earthquake has struck China’s seismically hazardous southwestern region in the same vicinity as one of the country’s mega-dams. Chinese geologist and environmentalist Fan Xiao says there is a “high probability” the Xiluodu dam, China’s second and the world’s third biggest hydropower power plant, triggered the quake.

Three Gorges Dam triggers frequent seismic activities

(April 7, 2014) Chinese geologist and environmentalist Fan Xiao says the recent quakes that struck central China’s Hubei Province in Zigui county — “the first county of the Three Gorges Dam” due to its proximity to the project site — signal that the seismic threat posed by Three Gorges Dam is at its most critical stage now. Reservoir-induced seismicity (RIS) is most likely to occur within a few years, even a decade after initial filling of a dam reservoir to its highest level, due to the time it takes for reservoir water to penetrate deep into seismic faults and fissures before it triggers seismic activity. A 2010 study revealed seismic monitors around the Three Gorges Dam reservoir and in Hubei Province registered 3,429 earthquakes between June of 2003 (when inundation of the reservoir began) and December 31, 2009: a 30-fold increase in seismic frequency over the pre-dam period.

More earthquakes strike Three Gorges Dam region

(April 1, 2014) A magnitude-4.7 earthquake hit Zigui county in central China’s Hubei Province last Sunday, around 23 kilometres from the Three Gorges Dam site location, several days after a magnitude-4.3 tremor was felt early Thursday morning about 30 kilometres from the dam. Authorities say the dam was not affected but they are monitoring the situation. There have been no reports of casualties or property damage, although news coverage has noted an increase in Chinese experts who support the speculation that the project itself is the cause of local seismic activity.

Senior official of State Council died from falling off building

(April 1, 2014) Li Wufeng, the high-level Chinese minister who died after falling from the 6th floor of his office last month, once briefly served as the assistant general manager of China Three Gorges Project Corporation (CTGPC), the recent target of a two-month corruption probe that angered the Chinese public with its revelations of bidding irregularities, bribery and excessive spending by corporation officials. Li’s sudden death has caused much speculation. A CTGPC insider is quoted in this report as saying meddling by CTGPC leaders and their families in bidding for company projects and interest transfers was an “open secret” and that “even individual retired cadres were involved in the countless corruptions. Now everyone at the CTGPC is in a panic, because everyone was involved.”

Jinping-I Dam impoundment linked to earthquakes

(February 3, 2014) Chinese geologist Fan Xiao investigates once again if the impoundment of a large dam reservoir triggered a series of earthquakes in the seismically active southwest region of China? Based on data collected by China Seismic Information (CSI), Mr. Fan says, ‘Yes’. Not only were the November 22, 2013, seismic events recorded in Sichuan, China not naturally occurring or isolated incidents, he says the region should prepare for stronger, “even destructive earthquakes” as a result of further impoundment.

Chinese dam builders rush to Latin America

(January 7, 2014) China’s growing involvement in hydropower development in the region boosts clout but also leads to allegations of poor corporate responsibility. “There is great resistance to dam-building in Latin America and special worry about Chinese dams because of the opaque nature of China’s decision-making and poor quality in these dams,” says Pat Adams of Probe International.