The world’s largest dam is at risk of collapse, expert warns

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Videos show massive flooding in S. China, Three Gorges Dam next

As southern China sees some of its worst flooding in 80 years, videos have surfaced showing extreme quantities of water inundating 10 provinces and cities, threatening the vaunted Three Gorges Dam.

As China’s Yangtze River Basin enters its flood season, the upper reaches of the Three Gorges Dam are seeing the highest flood levels since 1940. Weather China has issued its highest warning for flooding and rain for the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River to Guizhou.

The rainfall is expected to peak on Tuesday and Wednesday (June 23 and 24). Flood warnings have been issued in more than 10 provinces and municipalities in China, including Guizhou, Chongqing, Hunan, Hubei, Jiangxi, Anhui, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Shanghai, and Guangxi.

In Guizhou, torrential floods have inundated farmland and houses, with 6 counties submerged. Injuries and deaths are unknown, with reports ranging between three to 20 people.

The Chongqing Municipal Hydrological Monitoring Station on Monday (June 22) issued its first red alert flood warning in 80 years for the Qijiang River. It is predicted that there will be severe flooding in the area within 8 hours.

Based on live Chinese news broadcasts, it seems that the flood is currently passing through Qijiang District. Gas stations, street lights, and telephone poles have disappeared beneath a brown soup of floodwaters.

In the areas of Zunyi and Tongren, Guizhou Province, there have been reports of continuous rains over the past week, resulting in floods, mountain slides, power outages, and road closures. Some Chinese media outlets report that the death toll has exceeded 20, but the official Chinese government statistics only list 3 deaths.

Reports from various local media outlets have been chaotic, with some having lost communications due to the floodwaters. Other outlets have seen their vehicles washed away by the deluge, with actual casualties likely much higher than official government statistics.

One of the worst-hit areas is Mugua Township in Guizhou Province. It is seeing the worst flooding in four decades with roads buried beneath up to four meters of water.

Many people are believed to be trapped by the floodwaters in the province’s Bajiao Township. In Tongren City in Guizhou’s Yanhe Tujia Autonomous County, a landslide has sealed off the highway tunnel to Guanzhou Township where houses and shops are also swamped with floodwaters.

The Guizhou Meteorological Bureau has continued to issue red warnings for torrential rain in Wuchuan County, Zheng’an County, Yanhe County, and Tongzi County. In addition, 13 counties under the jurisdiction of Zunyi City and Tongren City have issued yellow flood warnings.

Given that the Qijiang is a tributary of the Yangtze River, the Three Gorges Dam will be facing its biggest test since it opened in 2003. At least one Chinese scientist, hydrologist Wang Weiluo (王維洛), is questioning the dam’s integrity, given numerous cracks observed and substandard concrete used in construction.

In the tweet below, a massive cascade of water can be seen plunging off the side of a city floodwall. The Chinese netizen who posted it wrote: “The mountain city of Chongqing becomes a water city. The Three Gorges Dam is in danger.”

From Taiwan News

China’s Three Gorges Dam Could Collapse, Expert Warns

As pouring rain continues to soak central and southern China, an expert warns that the Three Gorges Dam, one of the world’s largest dams, is at risk of collapse.

The Three Gorges Dam is built above the Yangtze River and situated in China’s Hubei province.

A branch of China’s Yangtze River is bracing for the largest flood ever in 80 years. Authorities have evacuated 40,000 locals, issuing a yellow alert for rainstorms.

On Saturday, June 20, water inside the Three Gorges Dam reservoir rose 6 feet above the warning level.

Chinese authorities insist that the dam is structurally sound, but a famed hydrologist, Wang Weiluo, said the dam is of poor quality, and can’t provide flood protection.

Construction of the dam began in 1994 and was completed in 2006.

Wang said after a serious flood in 1998, China’s then-premier hired Western experts to assess the quality control of the build. The experts said the steel bar welding of the dam didn’t meet with standards.

Chinese workers were unhappy and said the Western expert’s criticism was racial discrimination. But the criticism came too late.

“The steel bar welding and cement pouring of the gorge’s left bank is all complete. They can’t redo it,” Wang said.

The Three Gorges Dam didn’t have a separate body for quality inspection. The team that designed and constructed the dam did it themselves.

When the dam first began operations, China’s state media made grand claims that the dam can withhold the worst flood in 10,000 years. Years later they changed this claim to 1,000 years, and a year later revised to 100 years, suggesting a decline of confidence in the dam.

In 2010, state media quoted Chinese officials stressing that people can’t put all their hopes of flood control on the Three Gorges Dam.

Last year, a group of before and after photos of the dam circulating online sparked concerns.

The photos show in 2008, the dam was a straight line, but the image of it in 2018 is slightly curved. Now, the dam looks even more curved.

Chinese authorities denied that the dam is deformed, claiming it’s a satellite imaging issue.

State experts later responded, saying the dam had moved a few millimeters, but within the normal safety range.

Wang said before that the dam has moved due to its flawed design.

He wrote in a 2019 article that the dam is composed of dozens of independent concrete blocks.

“These blocks are not connected to the bedrock below, they’re just sitting on top it,” Wang.

Wang said if the dam collapses, it will impact over 400-million people living downstream.

The Yangtze River’s mid to lower reaches are densely populated, and include big cities like Shanghai and Wuhan.

From NTD

Three Gorges Dam ‘not at risk of collapse,’ safe for heavy rainfall: experts

Chinese experts have dismissed rumors hyped by some Western media that the Three Gorges Dam, the world’s biggest hydropower project, is at risk of collapse, noting 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.

Since China entered the flood season in June, southern and eastern regions of the country have experienced heavy and extensive rainfall. Floods have affected more than 2 million people and caused economic losses of billions of yuan.

The water level in China’s massive Three Gorges Reservoir reached 147 meters on Saturday, two meters above the flood warning line. Meanwhile, the inflow increased to 26,500 cubic meters per second from 20,500 cubic meters per second on the previous day.

The alarming water level gave rise to rumors that the dam is under structural strain and nearby residents should evacuate. Some Western media hyped claims that the dam is at risk of collapse, which was not new in their discredit of the project.

Guo Xun, a research fellow at the Institute of Engineering Mechanics at the China Earthquake Administration in Beijing, refuted the rumors and speculation, saying that the dam is capable of holding far larger inflows than it is seeing now.

The dam is designed to meet “once-in-a-millennium” water level at 175 meters or flow up to 70,000 cubic meters per second. Currently, the 147-meter water level and 26,500 cubic meters per second levels are absolutely safe for the dam to bear, Guo told the Global Times on Monday.

Guo noted that the two-meter excess indicates that water in the reservoir needs to be discharged to balance outflow and inflow to prevent the water level from continuing to mount, a common practice in rain seasons. But the water is not a challenge to the reservoir, Guo said.

Speculation that the dam is an impending disaster have long circulated online both at home and abroad.

In July 2019, a satellite image of Google Maps appeared to show that the Three Gorges Dam was distorted, sparking concerns that it is at the edge of breaking.

The operator of the dam, the China Three Gorges Corp (CTGC), said in a statement then that monitoring data showed the dam was in normal working condition and the project was safe and reliable. Minor deformation happens all the time and it will not affect the dam’s safety as long as it’s within an elastic range, analysts explained then.

From Global Times

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