TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — As torrential rains in China continue to wreak havoc on more than 24 provinces, notable Chinese hydrologist Wang Weiluo (王維洛) has questioned the safety of the massive Three Gorges Dam, warning that it could collapse at any moment.
In southern China, regional rainstorms and mudslides that began on June 1 have uprooted more than 7,300 houses and affected nearly eight million people as of Monday morning (June 21). The immediate economic loss is estimated at 20.6 billion RMB (US$2.9 billion) by local officials.
The nonstop downpours have also raised the Chinese public's concerns over the potential bursting of the world's biggest hydropower project. Despite government assurances that the dam is structurally sound, Wang has taken an opposing view and claimed that the facility is not as stable as many have been led to believe, reported New Talk.
Wang pointed out that the dam's design, construction, and quality inspection were all carried out by the same group of people and that the project was finished too quickly. He said that even Chinese Vice Minister of Water Resources Ye Jianchun (葉建春) confessed at a June 10 press conference that water levels of at least 148 rivers in the country have risen above warning thresholds, which proves that the Three Gorges Dam has a limited effect on flood control.
Rather than commenting on the validity of the images showing the dam's warping a year ago, Wang said a more serious concern is the cracks and substandard concrete discovered during its construction. He said a failure of the dam would have catastrophic consequences for individuals residing in the lower reaches of the Yangtze River and that they should prepare for evacuation as soon as possible, reported CT Want.
In his interview with Radio France Internationale, the Chinese water expert also criticized the Chinese government and state media for refusing to acknowledge the potential danger of the reservoir. He said that scientists who have spoken the truth have been criminalized by Beijing, resulting in a society with no communication.
According to Chinese stated-owned CNTV, water inside the Three Gorges Dam continues to accumulate and has risen two meters above its flood-prevention level. Although the dam has been hailed by Beijing as one of the greatest engineering achievements in human history, its structural integrity continues to be questioned.
Torrential rains continue to batter southern China. (AP photo)