Gorges dam firm says critics are confused

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 21 June, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 21 June, 2011, 12:00am


The management of China Three Gorges Corporation has defended itself against critics who say the massive dam is dangerous and have questioned its flood-control capacity amid the deluge in the southeast.

'We are fulfilling a sacred mission in playing a pivotal role in flood control, power generation, transport and the environment,' a report on the company's website over the weekend said. The statement was underscored in comments at a follow-up press conference on Sunday.

The report comes just weeks after Beijing lawmakers outlined a number of concerns, some serious, regarding the hydroelectric dam, located along the Yangtze River in Yichang, Hubei .

One of the issues at hand is whether the dam can handle the biggest flooding to be seen in 100 years, 1,000 years or 10,000 years - all of which have been claimed by various officials.

But corporation president Chen Fei said it was misinterpretation, according to The Beijing News. The Three Gorges project had three flood-control targets in its design, based on statistical records and hydrological surveys, he said.

He said the 100-year target meant the dam could prevent flooding throughout the Yangtze River in the face of the biggest flood, on average, seen in a century.

But the 1,000-year target meant that the dam could prevent a flood of that magnitude with the help of a 360-kilometre-long spillover zone from Hunan to Hubei.

And the 10,000-year claim, he said, referred to the dam's ability to remain standing while taking in 110,000 cubic meters of water per second.

Professor Zhang Boting , deputy secretary general of the Chinese Society of Hydropower Engineering, said the Three Gorges' flood-control targets were the result of some sophisticated mathematical calculations that had confused not only the mainland public and media, but some hydropower experts like himself.

Modern hydrological surveys on the mainland can only generate data of the water flow of the Yangtze River from the last few decades.