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.
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.
The environmental awareness of Chinese people has changed dramatically in the 25 years since her path-breaking book, Yangtze! Yangtze! on the environmental and social effects of China’s Three Gorges Dam, was published. Now, renowned journalist, author, activist and Probe International Fellow and correspondent, Dai Qing, sits down with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) for a look back on her experiences as a veteran reporter and the lessons of value she has learned along the way.
Shanghai will suffer Three Gorges Dam impacts the most, says report.
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.
(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.
(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.
(May 16, 2014) Mu Lan, the editor of our Chinese Three Gorges Probe news service, documents in pictures the decline of China’s largest freshwater lake on the southern bank of the Yangtze River in east China’s Jiangxi Province for his report, “Is the Three Gorges Dam to blame for extreme drought in the Lake Poyang area?”
(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.
(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.”
(March 26, 2014) China’s central government replaces leadership at state-owned Three Gorges Corp. following graft probe. Signals suggest “it is probable there will be further investigations into corruption inside the corporation,” says Probe International’s Patricia Adams.
(December 20, 2013) High-profile Chinese geologist Fan Xiao — and the author of several reports for Probe International — notes with interest the rush by China’s state media, and the country’s official seismological agency, to dismiss a link between the 5.1-magnitude Badong County earthquake on Monday and the Three Gorges Dam reservoir. A dismissal that runs contrary to common sense and the basic facts of seismic analysis, says Mr. Fan, who believes reservoir-induced-seismicity (RIS), triggered by impoundment of the massive dam, was likely behind the recent quake and could induce stronger earthquakes in the 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?