Sichuan Earthquake Damages Dams, May Be Dam-Induced
According to the State-run Xinhua News Agency, the Zipingpu Dam on the Min River experienced "extremely dangerous" cracks, along with a collapsed powerhouse and other associated facilities. Seismologists from China's Earthquake Bureau had warned the government back in 2000 that the project should not be built given its proximity to a major fault line, yet these warnings were ignored. The government later reported that its experts had inspected the dam and declared it safe, although it is not clear exactly how thorough the inspections have been.
Despite the risks posed to millions of inhabitants downstream if a large dam were to break, the Chinese government continues to build scores of dams in the country's most earthquake-prone region, Sichuan and Yunnan Provinces in southwest China. In light of the damages to the dams, mainland experts, environmental groups, and activists have issued an open letter to the authorities. The letter calls for thorough risk assessments of all large hydropower projects in this region before companies are allowed to go forward with construction.
Follow these links for more information about the earthquake and the damage to the Zipingpu and other dams:
- Scientists Link China's Dam to Earthquake, Renewing Debate, The Wall Street Journal
- Dams Could Have Triggered Chinese Earthquake, The Guardian
- China Considers Earthquake Danger of Dams, The Los Angeles Times
- Greens Demand Halt to 'Feverish' Dam Building, Financial Times
- Chinese Environmentalists and Scholars Appeal for Dam Safety Assessments in Geologically Unstable South-West China, First Daily Business
- International Rivers on NPR's “To The Point” about China Quake
- Map of Zipingpu Dam's location in relation to epicenter, BBC News
- Video of Zipingpu Dam inspection, BBC News
Read the Science article about how the Sichuan Earthquake may be linked to the Zipingpu Dam's reservoir. See here for the original article by Christian Klose (2008).