(October 31, 2012) “Earthquake Hazards and Large Dams in Western China,” the Probe International report authored by geologist John Jackson, has set China’s academic and industry circles astir. As the debate over Jackson’s findings heats up, the respected Caixin Media magazine, New Century Weekly, looks at both sides of the debate and the specific issues Jackson’s explosive report has raised.
(October 15, 2012) Lauded by Chinese officialdom as a symbol of its growing might, the Three Gorges Dam had already been in operation for eight years when the Three Gorges Corporation issued its first-ever corporate social responsibility report. The release of the CSR report coincided with a wave of heightened concern surrounding the dam’s failings and impacts, and a rare admission by China’s State Council that all was not well with the jewel in its crown of modernity. A commentary by Li Tie at the time, published by China’s respected South Weekend, described the Corporation’s document as awash in insipid content” and exactly not what the public needed, which was honesty. Li even went so far as to say reports that did not respond honestly to widespread concerns, in effect, posed a threat to the nation’s social stability, leaving Chinese citizens more likely to place their faith in the country’s rumor mill than official documents they could not trust. Li’s misgivings appear to have only gained in resonance this year, as China’s recent summer of protest bears out.
(September 14, 2012) This spring, Probe International used the power of hazard mapping to assess the risks of China’s breakneck dam-building along its western rivers. Now, a new study published by the international scientific journal Tectonophysics discusses how flawed hazard maps may have underestimated such risks and been partly to blame for the devastation caused by the 2011 Japan, 2010 Haiti and 2008 China earthquakes.
(September 5, 2012) Probe International has been at the forefront of research on the connection between seismic activity and large-dam construction, focusing on examples in China such as the Zipingpu Dam, which is thought to have triggered the deadly 2008 Sichuan earthquake. Now, a new article by U.S.-based quake warning advocate, David Nabhan, calls for a rethink of seismic forecasting in North America that draws on connections so often overlooked: specifically, the trigger effect of dams, and the impact of lunar and solar gravitational tides on earthquake activity.
(August 20, 2012) A severe test of the Three Gorges dam’s capacity to withstand a major flood peak in July initially showed the mighty dam ready and able. However, downstream areas found themselves at higher risk when floodwaters were released by the dam. Meanwhile, upstream areas are impacted when the dam holds floodwaters back. This article looks at the many pressures, and potential disasters, weighing on the ability of China’s biggest dam to fulfill its design mandate and asks: is July’s flood peak—the biggest test of the dam so far in its nine-year history—just the start?
(July 12, 2012) Almost 20 years in the making, China’s Three Gorges mega-dam was declared complete on July 4 when the last of its 32 generators went online, 10 years after the first turbine went into operation. There is no end in sight, however, for costs associated with the vast and controversial project, which remains closer to disaster than triumph.
(July 6, 2012) Experts fear a proposed dam cascade slated for the Jinsha River, a tributary of the upper Yangtze River, could spell disaster. Reports on dam construction in western China’s seismic hazard zones and the risks of over-damming, released by Probe International earlier this year, are highlighted.
(July 4, 2012) As the fierce struggle between China’s hydropower industry and environmental conservationists rages anew, what has become clear in the meanwhile: the country’s rivers cannot sustain the current pace of development.
(June 22, 2012) The threat of geological disaster in the Three Gorges Dam reservoir area has prompted authorities to call on outside experts for help.
(May 17, 2012) The latest phase of the Three Gorges Dam relocation effort is expected to move 110,000 out of the Three Gorges Dam danger zone to safer ground (earlier estimates put that number at around 100,000). A new report by Beijing’s Caixin Online looks deeper at the area’s growing instability, the disagreements over who pays for what, and how residents are coping as the earth shifts, literally, beneath them.
(May 11, 2012) Chinese hydropower magnates plan to build 25 new dam reservoirs on the Yangtze’s upper reaches despite warnings of seismic risks from dam-building overload in the area, and in spite of recent evacuation efforts due to the threat of geological disaster at Three Gorges.
A two-day symposium focused on China’s Three Gorges Dam convened scientists and experts from China and elsewhere for a post-project assessment of the world’s largest hydro dam at the University of California, Berkeley.
(April 24, 2012) The Three Gorges Dam project was supposed to energize the Three Gorges region but a new study from Probe International reveals the dam is jeopardizing a once spectacular gorges region and water tourist idyll, and has drained the area’s vitality, stability and ecology.
(April 20, 2012) A report by the environmental group Probe International shows 20 dams in the upper Yangtze are in seismically active territory. But moving citizens could take some convincing. Those who have been relocated for the Three Gorges Dam have experienced trouble getting settled and finding work.
(April 19, 2012) Around 20,000 residents from the vicinity of China’s massive Three Gorges Dam face relocation because their homes are at risk from “constant landslides.” Patricia Adams, editor of online news portal Three Gorges Probe, writes: “Twenty years later, the critics have been proven right on all counts.”