(Probe International, April 17, 2012) Nearly 100,000 people living in
the Three Gorges Dam reservoir area face relocation due to the threat of
geological disaster, which has increased since the dam was filled to its
highest water level.
Nearly 100,000 people in the Three Gorges Dam reservoir region will be
relocated over the next three to five years due to an increased threat
from dam-related geological disaster, an official with China's Ministry
of Land and Resources announced this week on China National Radio (CNR).
According to Liu Yuan, an inspector for the Ministry of Land and
Resources, Department of Geological Environment, and director of the
Office of the Three Gorges Geological Disaster Prevention Leading Group,
landslides and bank collapses in [large] dam reservoir areas are to be
expected when dams are filled to their highest water level. He said that
during the past nine years, a number of incidents related to landslides
and bank collapses had occurred in the Three Gorges Dam reservoir area,
but such threats had been managed through disaster prevention and early
Disaster prevention, however, is 'really tough', said Liu, and the
future was not 'optimistic' for the Three Gorges area. Since October
2010, when the reservoir was first filled to its highest level of 175 m,
more than 70% of the 'risky' incidents that have occurred in the
reservoir area could be categorized as sudden and formed a pattern that
demonstrated an increase in the potential for hazardous and
unpredictable threats. Urgent measures were now required, he said, as a
possible increase in landslides and bank collapses not only posed a
threat to people living in the reservoir region (Liu announced 100,000
are to be relocated), but also, Liu admits, to shipping traffic on the
Yangtze River, which is a site of great interest to tourists.
Shanghai Daily reports that an increasing number of monitoring sites
were seeing adverse effects from the reservoir's maximum water level.
"We will start to deal with the rock falls and landslides at 335 sites
and call for people to work together to monitor the 5,386 potential
danger sites. We also need to replace the affected monitoring sites and
displace about 100,000 residents," Liu told CNR, Shanghai Daily reports.
Liu said his Ministry would work with local governments in the region to
implement disaster prevention and management measures.
A growing list of woes
In May 2011, the Chinese government finally conceded publicly some of
what critics had warned all along — that the Three Gorges Dam project
was troubled and faced a number of concerns: ecological deterioration,
the potential for geological disasters and the status of relocated
In its statement addressing the issue, the government promised to
"properly handle the negative effects brought by the project to the
middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River and improve the long-term
mechanisms for geological disaster prevention."
The most dramatic scenario facing the region cited by critics is the
potential for seismic disturbance or even a catastrophic earthquake.
The following is a translation of the China National Radio news report
of Liu Yuan's announcement:
Nearly 100,000 more people to be relocated with the increase of
geological disasters in Three Gorges reservoir area
By Feng Huiling, China National Radio (Zhongguang Wang), April 16, 2012
The Three Gorges Dam authority has tried three times to fill the Three
Gorges Dam reservoir to its NPL (normal pool level) of 175 metres since
2009, and finally got the job done in October 2010.
In general, in the first three to five years after (large) dam
reservoirs are filled to their highest level, new incidents of
landslides and bank collapses in the reservoir area are to be expected.
As such, the prevention of geological disasters is really tough and that
is why around 100,000 people living in the reservoir region are now
facing relocation, says an official with China's Ministry of Land and
Talking to a reporter from China National Radio [the national radio
station of the People's Republic of China], Liu Yuan, an inspector for
the Ministry of Land and Resources, Department of Geological
Environment, and director of the Office of the Three Gorges Geological
Disaster Prevention Leading Group, said a number of incidents related to
landslides and bank collapses have occurred every year in the Three
Gorges reservoir area. But there have been zero casualties and injuries,
he says, thanks to the monitoring in place and a timely warning system
over the past nine years. In the near future, however, he says the
prevention and control of geological disasters in the Three Gorges area
is not optimistic.
Liu Yuan: Over 70% of geological disasters (and risky incidents in the
Three Gorges reservoir area) can be categorized as sudden incidents
(that have occurred) since the reservoir was filled to 175 m (first
managed in October 2010). In some places, the geological disasters (and
risky incidents) are associated with the filling and dropping of the
water levels, and there is a growing tendency (of the situation), so
urgent measures such as engineering projects and relocation are needed
to be taken. In some places where landslides and bank collapses have
occurred along the reservoir, even if no people and housing are there,
the surging waves are dangerous and pose a serious threat to shipping on
the Yangtze River.
Liu Yuan said that in the coming period of time, the Ministry of Land
and Resources will cooperate with Hubei Province and Chongqing
Municipality to properly implement various prevention and control tasks.
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