A massive landslide this week is only the latest natural disaster critics believe the Three Gorges Dam has caused—even officials admit there have been 70% more landslides and bank collapses in the dam’s reservoir area since it was built 12 years ago. Lily Kuo for Quartz reports.
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.”
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.
(March 28, 2014) Once again, an earthquake has hit the Three Gorges reservoir area and dam officials are reassuring the public that the world’s largest hydropower plant is operating normally. The epicenter of a 4.3-magnitude earthquake struck Zigui County, just 30 km from the Three Gorges Dam at 12:20 a.m. March 27, 2014. Stay tuned while Probe International investigates the cause and effect of this latest tremor.
(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.
(July 20, 2013) On the heels of anti-graft campaigner Xu Zhiyong’s detention, authorities continue to get tough on rights activists as they endure another wallop of repression, shutting down a Beijing-based think tank. The move is seen as payback for activists who have called on government leaders to declare their assets, and on lawyers who defend “sensitive” cases.
(June 8, 2013) China’s national auditing watchdog says millions of yuan intended for Three Gorges Dam migrants were misappropriated and used for projects that had nothing to do with relocation.
(June 8, 2013) Funds intended for Three Gorges migrants were misappropriated while funds for geological disaster prevention and ecological protection were mismanaged, says China’s National Audit Office.
(March 12, 2013) China may be the world’s biggest cyberspace aggressor, but security specialists say China’s computer-controlled infrastructure is more vulnerable to cyber-attacks and to malfunctioning domestic software than are Western systems. Read Patricia Adams’ piece in the Huffington Post on why China’s dams are vulnerable to both.
(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.
(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.
(November 21, 2011) An article in the Daily Maverick argues that the proposed Grand Inga Dam in the DR Congo is a “beautiful vision” that would “fix Africa” by “lighting up the heart of darkness”, powering African industries and forcing countries to rely on each other.
(July 29, 2011) Since the construction of the Gezhouba and Three Gorges dams, Yangtze River’s fish stocks have been declining. The government’s solution – the “Fisherman on Land” program – has forced “boat families,” who once earned a living from the fish bounty of the Yangtze, to move ashore and find work in factories.
(July 19, 2011) China’s weekly newspaper, the Economic Observer, says the Three Gorges dam is the primary reason for the demise of the Yangtze’s “big four” fish species. By changing the hydrological regime downstream of the dam, the fry population of the black, grass, silver, and bighead carp have plummeted by 97%. Attempts to simulate the original hydrological conditions with forced water releases and restocking the river with broodstock will be futile say experts.
(June 20, 2011) Economist Mao Yushi’s criticism of the Three Gorges Dam in Dai Qing’s 1988 Yangtze! Yangtze! proves accurate more than two decades later in the wake of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao’s acknowledgement of problems.