Zone of Peace
Three Gorges Dam tested as water rises
BEIJING (Reuters) - Rising water levels in China's giant Three Gorges
Dam have triggered dozens of landslides in recent months, damaging
houses, land and infrastructure worth millions of dollars, state media
said on Thursday.
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In July, China finished evacuating residents from the last town to be
submerged by the massive 660-km (400-mile) long reservoir on the
Yangtze River, ending an exodus of some 1.4 million people that began
four years ago.
The 2,309-meter-long dam, the world's largest, aims to tame the river
and provide cheap, clean energy for the country's rapid development.
But critics say rising water levels in the reservoir are eroding
already fragile slopes and triggering landslides which could worsen as
levels reach their maximum height next year.
The reservoir's administration began withholding water outflows in
September to push the reservoir's water level up to 175 meters.
But since then, the rising water level had "further induced geological
harm including landslides and collapsing of the reservoirs' banks,"
the Xinhua news agency quoted Chongqing government spokesman Wen
Tianping as saying.
"(These) have caused damage or created a latent threat to ...
infrastructure, land and housing in dam areas above the evacuation
line," Wen said.
He added that 93 "surface threats" had emerged in 12 regions and
counties around the dam area, causing direct losses of 360 million
yuan ($53 million), but had not caused any injury or loss of life.
He however said the problems were anticipated during the dam's
feasibility study and that there was no cause for concern.
Officials said last year 12 billion yuan ($1.75 billion) had been
spent on repairs around the massive dam in past years and were
confident such efforts were successful.
But in April, a large mudslide hit a village in the Gaoyang area near
the dam in April, sweeping into a school playground. A landslide
nearby killed 35 people late last year.
Finished in 2003, the dam's water level has risen in stages, reaching
156 meters in 2006. It is expected to reach its final height next
(Reporting by Ian Ransom; editing by Nita Bhalla)