World's largest dam in 'danger of collapse' amid historic floods -- 400 million people at risk, China

Posted by Julie Celestial on June 25, 2020 at 15:07 UTC (10 hours ago)

A flood alert has been raised near Three Gorges Dam in China-- the largest hydropower project in the world-- as the country grapples with its worst flooding in 70 years. Torrential rains have been causing havoc throughout the southwest and central region this month, with many rivers bursting their banks, prompting mass evacuations. As many as 400 million people may be at risk, however, local media Global Times said experts have dismissed reports that the dam is at a brink of collapse.

Heavy rains over the past weeks have led to natural disasters being declared in 24 provinces and municipalities in the southwest and central China, especially areas near the upper reaches of the Yangtze River and the Three Gorges Dam.

to Asia Times Financial, this is the largest flooding since 1949, and it has caused major problems to the dam, which is located in Sandouping Town, near Yichang in Hubei Province.

Zhao Yunfa, the deputy chief engineer of the overflow dispatch communications center at the Three Gorges Project, warned people: "Do not pin your hopes on the Three Gorges Dam," as its flood storage capacity is limited.

Approximately 400 million people residing near the dam are now at risk.

Zhang Shuguang, director of the Three Gorges Corporation Hub Management Bureau, said flood control measures for the entire Yangtze River Basin could not depend on the dam to dominate the flood.

More than 85 million people have been affected by heavy seasonal rains this month, and the damage has amounted to 2.9 billion dollars or 20.7 billion yuan so far.

Zhang further warned that the largest flood 71 years ago may happen this year, as rainfall in the dam's catchment area poses a significant challenge.

The government then moved to defend the dam's structural integrity as the Chinese newspaper Global Times said experts have dismissed "rumors hyped by some western media" that the Three Gorges Dam is at risk of collapse.

It added that experts noted, "the dam is intact and has spare capacity to hold the current inflows of water after southern parts of China experienced heavy rainfall and the Three Gorges reservoir's water level exceeded the flood control line."

Guo Xun, a research fellow at the Institute of Engineering Mechanics at the China Earthquake Administration in Beijing, denied the reports and said the dam is capable of holding far larger inflows as it is reportedly designed to meet "once-in-a-millennium" water level at 70 000 cubic meters per second.

Heavy rain is forecast to continue over south China, particularly over south Guizhou, guanxi, and Hunan on June 26.