Geological disaster prevention measures for the gigantic Three-Gorges Project on the Yangtze River are in full swing to guarantee safe storage of water in the reservoir, a government source revealed Tuesday.
Shou Jiahua, vice-minister of land and resources, acknowledged that geological disasters couldn’t be totally avoided in the region in the coming years as soil and rock around the reservoir are expected to be eroded because of water level fluctuations of from 130 to 170 meters.
"But we have prepared thoroughly to minimize damage from any possible disasters," Shou Tuesday told a press conference organized by the State Council Information Office.
From June 2001 to June 2003, a total of 4 billion yuan (US$482 million) is expected to be invested in prevention and control work in 197 possible landslide zones near the reservoir, a colossal project designed to control flooding in the regions along the lower reaches of the Yangtze River.
Guo Shuyan, director of the Office of the State Council Three Gorges Construction Committee, said the project is progressing smoothly and will start generating power in August next year.
Situated in the western part of Yichang in Central China's Hubei Province, the project consists of a 2,309-metre-long, 185-metre-tall dam, and 26 generating units with a combined capacity of 18.2 million kilowatts.
Upon completion in 2009, the project will be able to generate 84.7 billion kilowatt-hours of electric power annually. Its permanent locks will accommodate ships of more than 10,000 dead weight tons.
The specialists reckon it would take 50 million tons of raw coal or 25 million tons of crude oil to produce the same amount of energy as the annual output of the Three Gorges Project. Thus the project will avoid the emission of 1 million to 2 million tons of sulfur dioxide, 300,000 to 400,000 tons of nitrogen oxide, 10,000 tons of carbon monoxide and 150,000 tons of soot into the air annually.
Guo said that by the end of August, approximately 70 per cent of the dam had been completed. The dam is designed to withstand the heaviest flooding the river is capable of.
"The dam's design is absolutely safe, and when it is completely finished, it will be able to control floods effectively," Guo said.
"Having been severely tested by the floods this summer, the completed sections of the dam have reassured people," said Guo.
(China Daily September 11, 2002)