China’s Three Gorges Dam not damaged


AFP

BEIJING — China’s Three Gorges Dam was not damaged by a major earthquake that rocked southwestern Sichuan province on Monday, state media reported.

“There were no signs that the earthquake has affected the dam, and everything is going as usual,” Hu Xinge, an executive with the group that operates the dam, told the official Xinhua news agency.

The dam, the biggest hydro-electrical project in the world, spans the Yangtze River, China’s longest, as part of a controversial project to provide power and flood protection to a vast swathe of central China.

The dam, in Hubei province, is about 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) from the epicenter of the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that hit neighboring Sichuan on Monday afternoon.

Critics have long warned that building the concrete damn in a known earthquake zone is a recipe for trouble. But China’s engineers have been equally adamant that the structure has been built to withstand any quake.

Opponents have also warned that the US$22 billion project, scheduled to go fully operational in 2009, would trap pollution and silt, and disrupt the lives of millions of people.