November 4, 2010

Trash Threatening To Jam Chinese Dam

The China Daily said that workers in central China have fished about 4,100 tons of rubbish out of the Three Gorges Dam reservoir in just six days as the trash threatened to jam up the massive structure.

The Daily quoted Wang Yafei, head of the operation, as saying that the clean-up process, which started October 26 when the water level in the dam's reservoir hit its maximum capacity, saw 100 people sent out in 15 boats daily.

The report said that over six days, the workers in Hubei province pulled out over 660 tons of trash a day, which consists of tree trunks, branches and straw.

Household garbage is a problem for the 150 million people that live upstream from the dam because nearby towns are not equipped for waste disposal so they dump trash into the Yangtze river.

China considers the $22 billion Three Gorges Dam a modern wonder.  It has pumped out much-needed hydroelectricity, increased shipping on the Yangtze and helped reduce flooding.

The report said that garbage was threatening the operation of the dam's 26 power generators.

"All of the salvaged garbage will be disposed of in an environmentally friendly way. There will be no disposal in rivers and nearby places," Wang was quoted as saying.

A lot of rubbish was washed into the Yangtze by heavy rains and floods, which caused concern as it threatened to jam the dam.

The Daily reported that the garbage was so thick in parts of the river that people could walk on the surface.

Chen Lei, an official with the China Three Gorges Corporation, said there is about 7 million cubic feet of garbage collected from the dam every year.

The newspaper said that the corporation spends about $1.5 million every year to clear floating waste.

Critics say the dam caused ecological damage and increased landslides in the area.  The dam displaced about 1.4 million people because the construction put several heritage sites underwater.

Image Courtesy Wikipedia