Three Gorges Dam 'a model for disaster'

The Three Gorges Dam

The Three Gorges Dam is a 'model of the past'

International Rivers has highlighted the environmental damage caused by the world's biggest hydropower project amid concern about plans for two new dams in China

China's Yangtze River hydropower project has been a 'model for disaster', according to a river protection charity, which is concerned about new proposals for similar projects.

The Three Gorges Dam, whose reservoir is due to reach its final height of 175 metres over the next few weeks, will be able to produce enough electricity to meet close to one tenth of China's current electricity demands.

However, Rivers International say the Dam has driven fish species to extinction, caused frequent toxic algae blooms and is subjecting the area to erosion and frequent landslides.

Future warnings

The group says that the environment impacts of the dam are likely to worsen with time.

'The submergence of hundreds of factories, mines and waste dumps and the presence of massive industrial centers upstream are creating a festering bog of effluent, silt, industrial pollutants and rubbish in the reservoir,' the report's authors write.

Policy director Peter Bosshard said the Chinese government was attempting to replicate the model of the dam. More hydropower proposals have been put forward for the Lancang (Upper Mekong) and Nu (Salween) Rivers.

'The Three Gorges Dam is a model of the past,' he said. 'Its impacts need to be independently evaluated before more dams are being built on the Yangtze River. There are smarter ways of generating energy and managing floods than by building outdated mega-projects.'

Useful links

Factsheet on Three Gorges Dam legacy

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