This spotlight on mega-dams of note, profiled by International Rivers’ Peter Bosshard for The Guardian, lists more banes than boons with a quest Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first prime minister, famously described as the “disease of gigantism.”
Increasing demand for natural catastrophe insurance has provided the world’s largest reinsurer, Munich Re, with its biggest market in the Asia Pacific region: China. But how will Munich Re classify disasters, such as earthquakes, in a country where seismic events are a growing subject of debate as to how many are natural and how many are man-made?
Images taken by Chinese geologist and environmentalist Fan Xiao during trips to the Three Gorges Dam reservoir area in 2012 and 2013, portray the dramatic changes that have taken place since the dam’s construction more than 20 years ago.
Astonishing changes in the life and environment of Chongqing: 20 years after the construction of the Three Gorges Dam: Fan Xiao
Twenty years after the completion of China’s monumental Three Gorges Dam, a new study by Chinese geologist Fan Xiao finds the mega-project’s impacts on his hometown of Chongqing, some 600 kilometres upstream, have been dramatic. Lost in the dam’s grand scale are the harsh consequences borne by the region’s environment and economy; its after-effects are felt most intensely by the individuals and communities struggling to adapt in the immense shadow of China’s largest public works effort since the Great Wall.
Beijing-based media group, Caixin, reports on Chinese geologist Fan Xiao’s research supporting a link between a 6.5-magnitude earthquake in China’s Yunnan Province in early August and the filling of dam reservoirs in the area. Several Probe International studies are cited.
Is China’s hydropower safe? Bloomberg’s Adam Minter cites Probe International’s investigations into the link between China’s dam-building and the surge in earthquakes.
Geologists express concerns that massive hydropower construction in the region may have contributed to seismic activity. Beijing-based media group, Caixin, interviews Chinese geologist Fan Xiao whose research supports a link between Yunnan’s 6.5-magnitude earthquake in early August and the filling of dam reservoirs in the area.
Geologists predict more frequent catastrophes in China’s Three Gorges Dam region, after landslides wipe out a hydropower plant. Fan Xiao and Yang Yong, the authors of several reports for Probe International, speak to thethirdpole.net about a disaster-prone region made more perilous by intensive hydropower development and call for new risk assessments to be carried out.
Seismic activity started to rise just as two giant reservoirs on the upper Yangtze were being filled with water. Nature magazine reports on the latest findings by Chinese geologist Fan Xiao, published by Probe International, on the link between mega-dams and seismic activity in China’s southwestern region.
If the findings of Chinese geologist and environmentalist Fan Xiao – and the author of several reports for Probe International – are accurate, they raise a serious question. This report by Quartz, a business news site from Atlantic Media, looks at some recent quakes in China linked to the filling of hydro-dam reservoirs.
“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.
(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.
(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”.
(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.
(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.