China’s Three Gorges Dam Operator Defends Project

Posted June 20th, 2011 at 11:55 am (UTC-5)
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The operator of China's Three Gorges Dam is defending the controversial mega-project, saying it benefits society and the Chinese economy.

The Three Gorges Corporation, in a report on social responsibility, says the dam guards against flooding along the middle and lower Yangtze River, and say it helped alleviate a drought that ravaged much of southern and eastern China during much of the past nine months.

The social responsibility document follows a State Council report last month in which Beijing said the $25 billion dam — the world's largest hydro-electric project — is fraught with environmental, geologic and economic problems. That report called for urgent action to curb pollution and to protect against the threat of natural disasters such as earthquakes and mudslides near the huge facility.

The May 22 report also called for action to improve the lives of the 1.4 million people who were forced to relocate early in the last decade when the gates of the dam were closed to create a massive reservoir in Hubei province.

The dam, which began generating power in 2008, has been criticized for years by opponents who warned it would cause an environmental catastrophe on China's most important waterway.

Advocates argue the project has helped millions of people along the river. Among the benefits, proponents say the dam generated more than 84 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity in 2010. The Three Gorges Corporation report says that output helped to avoid burning nearly 30 million tons of coal.