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3,400 problematic rural hydropower plants sorted out in 6 years
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China sorted out more than 3,400 problematic rural hydropower plants in six years in an effort to curb rising number of safety accidents, the Ministry of Water Resources said Sunday.

Underlying danger was found in more than 20,000 old hydropower plants built in rural areas before the 1990s, whose building and equipment were less sturdy, a ministry official told an industry conference on rural water resources held in Hangzhou, capital of east China's Zhejiang Province.

In 2006, eight people were killed in the Shuanglong hydropower plant in Pingshan County of Sichuan Province after the water-holding wall collapsed during a trial run violation.

A year later, the water channel in the Zhenai power station in Yunnan Province collapsed, claiming five lives.

In order to reduce safety accidents, the ministry had since 2003 tightened supervision on work safety in major hydropower stations, and carried out annual overhauls, said Tian Zhongxing, head of the ministry's rural hydropower development department.

Seventy-five percent of the problematic power plants discovered by the ministry had been repaired by the end of last year, and the safety condition was turning better, said the ministry.

Hydropower plants have become an important part of rural infrastructure and a critical means of protecting ecological environment, said Chen Lei, minister of the water resources at the meeting.

Up to 99.6 percent of the rural household had access to hydropower last year, compared with less than 40 percent in 1980. More than 300 million people benefited from it, he said.

(Xinhua News Agency May 18, 2009)

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