The state-owned operator of China’s Three Gorges Dam has moved to quash rumours that the world’s largest hydropower project is in trouble, after images from Google Maps circulated which appeared to show the structure had warped. In a statement on its WeChat social media account, the company said the mammoth Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze River was in normal working order, with all metrics up to standard, and it was running “safely and reliably”. Claims began circulating on overseas social media platforms at the beginning of July that the dam was in danger of collapse, and recently were picked up among China’s online community. But China Three Gorges Corporation (CTGC) has refuted the claims, saying all measurements of the dam’s displacement were in line with its design parameters, which require a degree of flexibility. “The distribution of vertical and horizontal displacements is related to the height of the dam … and is in line with the deformation law of a concrete gravity dam,” the company said. CTGC said expert quality inspectors had reviewed the project’s safety monitoring system and any likely structural change in reaching their conclusion. The 248 million yuan (US$36 million) Three Gorges Dam is the world’s largest in terms of electricity generating capacity, which can reach 22,500 megawatts. The entire project consists of a dam and five-tier ship lock, in addition to 32 generators. China Three Gorges’ US$10.8b bid for Portuguese utility faces hurdles The state-owned China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation last week released high-definition satellite images of the dam to show that the project “has no problems at all”, it said on Weibo. China’s popular social media platform. Shanghai-based online news portal The Paper published a statement by Zhang Boting, deputy secretary general of the China Society for Hydropower Engineering, who dismissed the rumours as untrue. “There are foreign dams that are much bigger than the Three Gorges and these dams have existed for dozens, or even more than 100, years, and we have never heard that they have problems such as deformation,” Zhang said. “How can our Three Gorges Dam, which is smaller in scale and built much later than these other dams, create such a miracle [of being deformed]?” he asked, adding that the dam would have collapsed already if there was any truth to the rumours. Zhang explained that any structure under pressure must be able to undergo some flexible changes in response, but he pointed out that the structure was designed to return to its normal shape once the pressure had dissipated. The Chinese government has hailed the Three Gorges Dam as an historical engineering achievement but critics have expressed concerns that the project has caused serious damage to the environment.