Image credit: NASA.
A new report from the Canadian NGO Probe International claims that of 130 completed or proposed mega-dam projects in South-West China, “48.2% of the dams were in zones of high to very high seismic hazard, while 50.4% were in zones of moderate seismic hazard.” Only 1.4% of dams are located in areas safe from seismic activity.
Since its publication, the report has drawn widespread academic and industry interest in China. In August, Zhang Boting, deputy secretary of the China Society for Hydropower Engineering, issued a written response in which he stressed that safety precautions are taken when dams are built in areas at risk of earthquakes. He added that reservoirs can trigger small earthquakes, releasing energy that might otherwise build up and cause large quakes. In other words, dams actually reduce earthquake risks.
The dams covered by the survey all lie within the Himalayan earthquake region, the world’s most active tectonic zone. The report claims that “large dams built in such high-risk areas will be at threat from naturally occurring earthquakes, and going ahead with construction is an extraordinarily risky experiment.”
Research by the China Earthquake Administration’s Institute of Geology, Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology and the Sichuan Earthquake Bureau, published in 2008 in the journal Seismology and Geology found that the Zipingpu Dam may have led to the 2008 Wenchuan Earthquake in Sichuan province that killed over
10,000 68,000 people.
Join Shanghaiist for the Hairy Crab & Sex Museum Tour on Nov 3-4! Click below image to find out more: