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Three Gorges Dam is Full; Earthquake Risks Increased
Posted by Eric Lander on October 28, 2010 6:10 AM
Three Gorges dam in China -- the world's largest and most expensive hydroelectric project -- this week reached its capacity of 574 feet, Chinese state media reported.Cao Guangjing, chairman of the China Three Gorges Corp., told Xinhua news agency that only by reaching the maximum level would all of the project's 26 power-generating units -- each with a capacity of 700,000 kilowatts -- be fully operational.
At peak level, the dam on the Yangtze River would generate an annual output of 84.7 billion kilowatt hours of power.
During the engineered flooding required for the building of the dam, started in 1994 and completed last year, 13 cities, 140 towns and 1,350 villages were submerged and 1.8 million people displaced.
Two previous attempts, in 2008 and 2009, to reach the capacity mark failed. When the dam began to generate power in 2008, the reservoir's water level had reached 567 feet.But geologists warn that the extra water increases the risk of landslides, earthquakes and damage to the Yangtze River's ecosystem.
Fan Xiao, chief engineer of the Sichuan Geology and Mineral Bureau, told the South China Morning Post that landslides are inevitable because elevated water levels significantly increasing the internal moisture of surrounding banks, making them soft, loose and unpredictable.