Trash threatens Three Gorges dam

Despite the floods that have killed over 1,000 people in China this year, mostly around the Yangtze river area, the Chinese government has continued to maintain that the effects have been mitigated by the massive Three Gorges dam. But a buildup of trash is now threatening to clog the mighty dam, and the Chinese media ...

By , a former associate editor at Foreign Policy.
566386_trash5.jpg
566386_trash5.jpg

Despite the floods that have killed over 1,000 people in China this year, mostly around the Yangtze river area, the Chinese government has continued to maintain that the effects have been mitigated by the massive Three Gorges dam. But a buildup of trash is now threatening to clog the mighty dam, and the Chinese media is being surpsingly candid about it

Photos show cranes lifting up grayish lumps of tree branches, plastic bags and bottles and other household trash spreading across the reservoir like a layer of lumpy oatmeal. See a slideshow of the scene.

“The large amount of waste in the dam area could jam the miter gate of the Three Gorges Dam,” Chen Lei, Three Gorges engineer, told the China Daily.

Despite the floods that have killed over 1,000 people in China this year, mostly around the Yangtze river area, the Chinese government has continued to maintain that the effects have been mitigated by the massive Three Gorges dam. But a buildup of trash is now threatening to clog the mighty dam, and the Chinese media is being surpsingly candid about it

Photos show cranes lifting up grayish lumps of tree branches, plastic bags and bottles and other household trash spreading across the reservoir like a layer of lumpy oatmeal. See a slideshow of the scene.

“The large amount of waste in the dam area could jam the miter gate of the Three Gorges Dam,” Chen Lei, Three Gorges engineer, told the China Daily.

Authorities have spoken publicly about problems at other dams, but this year’s unprecedented frankness about the Three Gorges in state media raises other questions. One of the Three Gorges biggest selling points was its ability to tame flooding on the Yangtze River. Critics say the dam could never live up to overhyped expectations on flood control.

More photos here

Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @joshuakeating

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