Three Gorges Dam Failing

Chinese Dam Increases Risk of Earthquakes

Written by Brian Hicks
Posted April 18, 2012

China’s Three Gorges Dam is located on the Yangtze River.  Completed in 2006, the dam and its reservoir were meant to prevent the constant flooding of the Yangtze and to contribute to the nation’s power during a time of great industrialization.

But it has caused a dangerous number of problems and risks.

In 2010, the water in the dam reached its maximum level, and related landslides and natural disasters have increased by 70% since then.

1.4 million people have already been moved from the surrounding area as a safety precaution.  And it’s possible, says ministry official Lin Yuan, that in the next 3 to 5 years, 100,000 more will be displaced.

As he told China National Radio, the government is monitoring 5,386 sites that have been deemed dangerous, and they have begun work on 335 locations where there have already been landslides and rockfalls.

The ministry refused to confirm or deny his claims, but the government has acknowledged that filling the reservoir has increased seismic activity and the risk of earthquakes.

And last year the nation’s Cabinet outlined all the problems related to the dam, problems that have been disputed for a long time.

In May 2008, a huge earthquake occurred in Sichuan, killing 87,000 people.  The government insists that it was unrelated to the reservoir, but concerns still remain.

A report by the environmental group Probe International also shows that 20 dams in the upper Yangtze are in seismically active territory.

And though moving citizens might be safest, it could take some convincing.  Those who have already been moved have reported trouble getting settled and maintaining work since they had to leave the area.

The government will continue to monitor the regions in danger, and it is likely that many more people will have to leave their homes.