U.S. Water News Online
BEIJING -- In a rare admission of problems at the giant
Three Gorges Dam in central China, officials said cracks found in the
dam could leak if not fixed.
The comments contrasted with government claims that the dam on the
Yangtze river has been a success since its reservoir began to fill on
June 1. The government says the water has reached the depth necessary
to allow ships to sail on the reservoir.
Inspectors have found about 80 cracks in the dam's surface, said
Pan Jiazhong, head of the construction committee inspection group. He
said that while they weren't a threat to safety, they could expand
and cause leaking if not repaired.
``If water enters these cracks, there could be negative effects,
so we are fixing them very carefully,'' Pan said at a news
Chinese officials say the dam will control chronic flooding on the
Yangtze and produce power needed by industry.
Critics say the dam is a waste of money and could worsen pollution
by trapping sewage and industrial waste. They say an accident could
cause a catastrophe in the densely populated area.
The government has moved some 720,000 of a total of 1.3 million
people who are to be relocated from areas due to be inundated by the
reservoir, said Guo Shuyan, director of the construction committee.
Dozens of towns and small cities have been flooded by the
reservoir and 13 larger communities have been rebuilt on higher land
with what the government says are much improved facilities.
However, Guo said there isn't enough farmland for many of the
farmers moved above the waterline and that what land is available is
of poor quality.
Guo said the problem was being studied and proposals including the
introduction of fruit growing, tourism and animal raising were being
Critics also complain of corruption and negligence in resettlement
work. Scattered reports say some of the tens of thousands of people
moved to other parts of China have returned to the gorges area after
finding their new homes inadequate.
Plans call for the reservoir's water level eventually to rise to
577 feet. At that point, the reservoir will flood an area covering
254 square miles.
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