Category: Dams and Earthquakes

Three Gorges Dam crisis in slow motion

(June 11, 2011) Peter Lee takes a poignant and pithy look at the sordid history of the Three Gorges dam. From its questionable inception to the recent drought, Lee examines the government’s methodologies in dealing with critics and problems which come under fire as the Three Gorges faces its toughest challenges to date.

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Three Gorges Dam discussed on CBC’s The Current

(June 8, 2011) In the wake of China’s official admission that the Three Gorges dam is beset by “urgent problems”, longtime criticism of the world’s biggest hydroelectric project has moved to the front pages. The Current, aired by the CBC, interviews outspoken opponents of the dam – including Probe International Fellow Dai Qing – to provide a snapshot of the issues surrounding the dam giant: a fast fading symbol of modern China’s rise.

Drought? Earthquake? Blame the Three-Gorges Dam: World View

(May 27, 2011) When China’s State Council announced there were “urgent problems” with the Three Gorges Dam, Chinese voices – both powerful and common – started to question its role in seemingly unrelated natural disasters, reports Bloomberg.com. In one both dramatic and comical example of a trend towards airing negative views, the popular, nationalist Global Times quoted dam expert, Zhang Boting, who offered this unreassuring gem: “After the construction of the project, there were thousands of minor earthquakes, which actually helped release built-up seismic energy in that area and reduced the possibility of big earthquakes happening in the future.”

Sudden Sinkhole

(May 3, 2011) Onlookers in Beijing, China, keep a safe distance from a giant sinkhole that opened in the middle of a busy street last Tuesday, swallowing a truck. Several news reports say the sinkhole formed above a tunnel being dug for construction of a subway line. (See pictures of a huge sinkhole in Guatemala City.)

Anatomy of a dam failure

(April 27, 2011) In the world of engineering, standards are the foundation on which everything else rests. An investigation following a catastrophic explosion at Russia’s largest hydropower station in the summer of 2009 revealed poor management and technical flaws to be at the root of the dam’s failure. A repaired turbine almost at the end of its life span, taken offline again because it still didn’t work, was forced back into service in an emergency: a move that would cost 75 people their lives. This Popular Mechanics investigation asks whether the United States, a country with hundreds of hydro plants in operation, might also be at risk of a Russian-style dam disaster. U.S. experts say not likely: the two countries are separated philosophically when it comes to safety and human life.