China’s Three Gorges Dam project, completed in 2012, was designed not only to generate hydroelectric power and allowed inland traffic for ocean-going freighters from The China Sea but also to tame the fierce Yangtze River, that is the cause of many devastating floods throughout China’s history. What is the latest news on the Three Gorges Dam?
After 2 months of record rain & heavy floods across central & south-west China, Three Gorges Dam is approaching capacity & officials say if it spills over could collapse. The mega-dam was considered risky from the start, the millions relocated when it was built are now in danger of floodwaters.
China’s rulers may be most concerned by the impact of the Three Gorges Dam project on the displaced masses, many of whom appear to have failed to rebuild their lives after being evicted from the land covered by the reservoir and the construction of the Dam.
The History of Three Gorges Dam
The Controversial Three Gorges Dam is a hydroelectric gravity dam that spans the Yangtze River by the town of Sandouping, in Yiling District, Yichang, Hubei province, China. The Three Gorges Dam has been the world’s largest power station in terms of installed capacity since 2012. When the construction of the dam officially began in 1994, it was considered the largest engineering project in China. At the time of its completion in 2006, it was the largest dam structure ever built in the world.
This concrete structure is 76,660 feet long with a maximum height of 607 feet high. It took 37 million cubic yards of concrete and 463,000 metric tons of steel into its build. Building the dam created immense deepwater inside China and allowed for ocean-going freighters to come inland more than 1400 miles inland from the China Sea. Proponents built the Dam to help facilitate this trade opening China up to the world’s economy.
With all turbine generators online the Three Gorges Dam is able to produce more than 22,500 megawatts of electricity, making it the most productive hydroelectric dam in the world. The Dam was built with the intention of protecting millions of people from flooding who live along the Yangtze River, but now just the opposite is happening to those affected by this disaster. There were opponents to the idea of Three Gorges Dam at the time it was being planned.
Engineers who thought that a few smaller hydroelectric Dams could do the same things without the danger that a mega-dam would bring in the future opposed the project. Because of disagreement and opposition, the building of Three Gorges was delayed for 40 years In 1992 Premier Li Peng, who had himself trained as an engineer, was finally able to persuade the National People’s Congress to ratify the decision to build the dam.
Almost a third of its members abstained or voted against the Three Gorges Dam Project. Many people criticized the project saying the Dam would pollute the entire Yangtze River Basin. Engineers would have to relocate 1.5 million people from more than 1,500 cities and towns along the Yangtze River. There were research studies done by opponents specifically done on the amount of water in the reservoir being held back by the Mega-Dam that would cause earthquakes or landslides in the area.
Three Gorges Dam Today
Flooding on the Yangtze River peaked again this week, in Sichuan Province and the sprawling metropolis of Chongqing, while the Three Gorges Dam, 280 miles downstream, reached its highest level since it began holding water in 2003. The crippling floods have displaced millions and killed thousands in the Central and Southwest parts of the Country. The Yangtze River spilled over its banks for the 5th time this year as of August 21st, 2020. What the Chinese fear the most is the Yangtze River overtopping the Three Gorges Dam which could help collapse it.
“They will do everything they can to prevent the dam from overtopping,” said Desiree Tullos, a professor at Oregon State University who studies the Three Gorges project.“An overtopping dam is a worst-case scenario because it produces significant damage … and can lead to the entire thing collapsing.”
If the Three Gorges Dam collapses there would be a catastrophic type of failure characterized by the sudden, rapid, and uncontrolled release of impounded water or the likelihood of such an uncontrolled release. The disaster could kill an estimated 171,000 people and 11 million people will lose their homes.
Since the floods began in June, Chinese officials have repeatedly offered reassurances that the dam could withstand what has been called once-in-a-century flooding. Some reports in state media have gone further, claiming that the dam had almost certainly prevented even worse flooding in major cities downstream, including Wuhan, where the Covid-19 pandemic began.
Rainfall in the region of Yangtze River and its basin has doubled any previous records or the seasonal average and has caused more than 26 billion US dollar amount in damages and effected 63 million Chinese people.
“The Chinese nation has fought natural disasters for thousands of years, gaining precious experience,” the country’s leader, Xi Jinping, declared on Tuesday after a visit to Anhui, another flooded province downstream from the Three Gorges Dam. “We should continue to fight.” Mr. Xi called China’s disaster relief efforts “a practical test of the leadership and command system of our army.” He met with relatives of three people who died while fighting floods, and on Wednesday he addressed officers of the People’s Liberation Army and the People’s Armed Police, which have been involved in the relief work.
Three Gorges Dam Collapse 2020
The unusually high amount of rain is not just affecting the Yangtze River but the large waterway Yellow River and more than 700 other rivers throughout China. The flow of water into the Three Gorges Dam’s reservoir reached 75 million liters a second, breaking a record of 61 million liters set just last month, according to a statement from the Ministry of Water Resources.
Between 400 and 600 million people live in the lower Yangtze, including the most prosperous regions such as Wuhan, Nanjing, and Shanghai. If the Three Gorges dam located in Hubei Province – breaks, the consequences will be beyond staggering.