Latest round of defamation to Three Gorges Dam shows lack of basic knowledge


Chinese engineers and mechanics experts on Tuesday denounced a new round of Western media reports that hyped the Three Gorges Dam deformation rumor, saying the reports were taken out of context and exposed their anti-China mindset and lack of basic physics knowledge.

Some Western media have never been so obsessed with a single dam, unless it was located in China. The Three Gorges Project on China’s Yangtze River has faced smears and rumors, and the “deformation theory” was just another groundless hype, after previous accusations like collapse risks, causing earthquakes and aggravating floods were proven absurd, observers said.

After the Xinhua News Agency in a Saturday report said the dam’s displacement, percolation and deformation are within normal range amid an upcoming flood peak, these Western media jumped on it as if the dam was about to collapse like they had reported.

Engineers reached by the Global Times noted all objects subjected to force, including dams, roads and bridges, will display displacement and deformation to a certain extent. The elastic deformation is recoverable and not permanent, and that of the Three Gorges Dam has always been within the design limits.

The deformation smear also emerged in the summer of 2019 when the dam was holding floodwaters during China’s rainy season. Chinese experts explained at the time that the dam was not on the edge of collapsing, and only had elastic deformation within the designed limits of about 1.4 to 26.7 millimeters.

Another slander in July 2019 cited satellite images of Google Maps showing the Three Gorges Dam “seriously distorted.” Though the “distortion” later proved to be caused by low resolution of the image, the “deformation and collapse prediction” continued to circulate.

Although the Three Gorges Project is the world’s biggest hydropower project, its reservoir volume is small compared with others. The world’s top 10 reservoirs are two to five times the size of the Three Gorges Reservoir. If the Three Gorges Dam is at risk of collapsing, what about the 26 reservoirs larger than it? said Zhang Shuguang, chief engineer of China Three Gorges Corp (CTG), which operates the massive project.

Zhang also noted that the dam has a monitor system with more than 12,000 detection spots, which will sound an alarm if there is a minor abnormality.

Three Gorges Dam’s operations are safe and sound, and there is no so-called distortion or other risks, CTG told the Global Times in a statement. “The Three Gorges Project is not so ‘fragile’ as some people have imagined… it has prevented large floods.”

Real-time monitoring data shows that buildings and foundation of the Three Gorges Dam are working in a normal, safe and reliable manner, said the company. “Speculation without scientific monitoring data is irresponsible and unprofessional, or out of ulterior motives!”

The lifespan of the Three Gorges Dam will be beyond 100 years, Zhang Chaoran, an academician at the Chinese Academy of Engineering and an expert of hydropower-engineering, told the Global Times.

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