The environmental impact of the country's Three Gorges Dam has been less damaging than feared, a high-ranking official said yesterday.
Wang Xiaofeng, director of the office of the State Council's Three Gorges Project Committee, said: The (environmental) problems, including landslides, trapped silt and algae blooms, did not go beyond the scope predicted by the feasibility report in 1991, and in some cases, are less severe than predicted.
"We are able to allow more silt than the designed volume to get through the dam, and no major geological disasters or related casualties have happened in the reservoir area since the water level was raised to 156 m last year," he said.
Wang added that some algae blooms occurred, but were temporary and did not affect the quality of the water.
"Problems, including pollution, landslides, trapped silt and clean water discharge, merit our close attention," Wang said, but he added that some of the problems existed long before the dam was built and are manageable.
The Three Gorges area, sitting among brittle terrain in the heart of the country, has recorded several major landslides in past decades.
Wang said the dam might, however, have increased the chances of cave-ins and landslides, and his office is still taking measures, including reforestation, cementing rock structures, and stripping loose soil from periodically submerged areas, to ward against potential disasters.
Wang said monitoring facilities had not detected signs of earthquakes caused by the reservoir.
"Frequency and intensity of earthquakes remain similar to before," he said.
Local environment bureaux will continue to monitor ecological changes, and have hired professional workers to clean garbage, weeds and algae in the water.
Inspections of some of the 47 water treatment factories for irregularities have also been carried out.
(Xinhua News Agency November 16, 2007)