Category: China’s Dams

5.1-magnitude earthquake strikes Three Gorges Dam region

(December 16, 2013) A 5.1-magnitude earthquake struck a mountainous and populous area of China’s Hubei Province today, 100 kilometres from the Three Gorges Dam site. Officials have been quick to reassure the public that the dam has remained intact and is operating normally after the event, which occurred at 1:04 p.m. in Enshi Tujia and Miao Autonomous Prefecture, Badong County. Aftershocks and quake-triggered landslides are expected. What more could there be to this story?

China’s great dam boom: A major assault on its rivers

(November 12, 2013) China’s current fever for hydro development is such that even its unparalleled Three Gorges mega-dam now ranks as a mere fraction of its long-term dam agenda, reports Charles Lewis for Yale Environment 360. While China’s need for energy is undisputed, its emphasis on dam construction risks an irreversible legacy of damage the country may never recover from and flies in the face of its present Five Year Plan to develop clean energy, reduce pollution, and protect the environment, says Lewis. Echoing Probe International’s coverage of the innumerable threats posed by construction on such an unprecedented scale, Lewis presents here a valuable and succinct overview of the dangers China’s dam fever represents to its waterways, ecosystems, agriculture and fisheries, traditional livelihoods, species survival and even to its geological stability, as Probe International’s alarming 2012 findings revealed.

Home at all costs

(October 30, 2013) In April 2012, Liu Bai, a retired journalist dedicated to exposing the plight of Three Gorges Dam migrants and the project’s resettlement legacy of shattered lives, set out to discover what had happened to the first group of migrants who were moved from their homes in the ancient town of Dachang, in Wushan County, Chongqing Municipality, and resettled elsewhere around 11 years ago to make way for the world’s largest dam. What Liu Bai did not expect to find at the other end was that the resettlement of these migrants had not stuck! The majority of this first group of migrants had in fact returned home.

Seeing in the Dark: How porpoises hear in one of the world’s busiest rivers

(October 21, 2013) Scientists are using medical technology to study the endangered Yangtze finless porpoise and their critical sense of hearing, used for navigation, to understand how these mammals are managing in the very busy and loud waters of China’s high-traffic Yangtze River. “In a noisy environment, they’d have a hard time hearing their prey or their friend. It makes it more difficult for them to conduct basic biological activities such as foraging, communicating, and navigating in the river,” said biologist and lead author of the survey, Aran Mooney.

Giant landslide likely caused by Xiluodu Dam impoundment, says Chinese geologist

(July 30, 2013) Fan Xiao, a Chinese geologist and chief engineer of the Regional Geological Survey Team of the Sichuan Geology and Mineral Bureau, says analysis of the recent landslide in Yunnan Province indicates that impoundment of the nearby Xiluodu Dam reservoir most likely caused the event and that more can be expected when the reservoir is filled again. Sharply rising or rapidly falling reservoir water levels pose a threat to geological stability, he says, and can trigger disaster.

Massive new dams remind China of human price of ‘tofu constructions’

(July 20, 2013) China is on the cusp of another dam-building binge. Nowhere is the aggressive dam push raising more eyebrows than in the country’s southwest. Last year, a report by the environmental group Probe International said of the 130 proposed dams on rivers in the region, nearly 50 per cent “are located in zones of high to very high seismic hazard.”

Officials from China’s Three Gorges Corporation visit troubled U.S. lock

(June 19, 2013) Officials from China’s Three Gorges Corporation and Project Construction Committee (TGPCC) paid a visit earlier this month to the troubled U.S. Chickamauga Lock in Tennessee as part of an information sharing exchange organized by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) — responsible for the operation and maintenance of navigation locks on the Tennessee River. TGPCC, established by China’s State Council to oversee construction of the massive Three Gorges Dam project, has concerns regarding its own ship locks: some 733 cracks were reported to have appeared in the east and westbound channels of the Three Gorges dam’s five-step shiplock, along with a worrisome distortion that may have been caused by crustal plate movement, among other issues. The dam’s ambitious and intensely complex ship lift, slated for completion in 2015, has yet to be tested.

Uprooted

(June 14, 2013) Yang Yi’s surreal photo memoir of his childhood home, flooded for the construction of China’s Three Gorges Dam project, received special mention as one of New York’s Best Weekend Art Events in May when it debuted at Galerie Richard. Its run ends tomorrow, June 15.

Small dams an even bigger dam problem, say researchers

(June 1, 2013) New research from Oregon State University reveals small dams are no easier on the environment than their larger counterparts and often present more of a threat to their surroundings. The comparison between 31 small dams built on tributaries to China’s Nu River and four large dams proposed for the main stem of the same river, found the effects of the smaller dams were worse for nine out of the 14 characteristics studied. Habitat loss and damage at several dam sites show that the environmental effects of small dams are often greater, sometimes by several orders of magnitude. “A lack of regulation paired with a dearth of communication between small dam projects in China allows for the effects to multiply and accumulate through several dam sites,” say researchers.