Dam Safety

Devastating Floods Linked to Dam Bursts in Northeast Brazil

Dam burst on  Mundaú River, Rio Largo town, in the state of Alagoas
This is a guest blog by Amazon Program Intern Lilian Alves and Amazon Program Director Brent Millikan. Dam burst on Mundaú River, Rio Largo town, in the state of Alagoas Leo Caldas/Revista Veja The Northeast of Brazil is well-known for its periodic episodes of severe drought that cause particular hardship for those already suffering from extreme poverty, especially in the region's backlands (sertão). Last month, however, the Northeast was hit by devastating floods, where over fifty people were killed and an estimated 150,000 were left homeless. The center of the tragedy has been the

Of Oil Spills and Big Dams: What We Don't Know Can Hurt Us

BP Oil Spill, Gulf of Mexico, 2010
As BP's Gulf oil spill is so tragically demonstrating, once the cows are out of the barn and the oil is out of the well, it's too late to come up with a disaster response plan. We can't afford more BP disasters; it's time to start turning down projects with the greatest potential to create massive environmental catastrophes, and to decommission those that are ticking time bombs.

Dam Burst Feared After Qinghai Earthquake, China

On April 14, 2010, an earthquake measuring at 7.1 (6.9 according to the US Geological Survey) struck Yushu County in the largely Tibetan area of Qinhai Province. The tremor, whose epicenter lies near the high mountain town of Jiegu in Yushu County on the Qinghai Plateau, killed 1,700 people and seriously injured 11,000. The earthquake has highlighted civil society's concerns regarding dam safety and earthquake-related dam bursts. According to Chinese news reports, the Changu (or Thrangu in Tibetan) hydropower dam was damaged by the earthquake, and is "at the risk of collapse a

The Qinghai Earthquake and Dams

Wednesday, April 14, 2010
International Rivers Media Advisory Another terrible earthquake has struck China. The 7.1 tremor with an epicenter near Jiegu in Yushu County on the Qinghai Plateau has killed at least 400 people. According to Chinese news reports, the Changu (or Thrangu in Tibetan) hydropower dam was damaged by the earthquake, and is "at the risk of collapse at any time." The Changu (Thrangu) Project is located upstream of the county seat, Jiegu, and is clearly visible on Google Earth. If the dam breaks, it would endanger the lives of more than 100,000 people living downstream. International Ri

Nature Strikes Back at Three Gorges Dam

Three Gorges resettlers
Three Gorges resettlers Chongqing China Three Gorges Museum "Battling with heaven is endless joy, fighting with the earth is endless joy, and struggling with humanity is endless joy," Mao Zedong once proclaimed. The Three Gorges Dam, which the great helmsman had conjured in one of his poems, is one of the manifestations of this philosophy. Nature inevitably strikes back against those who fight it. In the case of the Three Gorges Dam, we just learned that at least 300,000 more people need to displaced so that the environmental impacts can be kept under control. A consortium led

The Dam That Shook the Earth

Zipingpu Dam
Zipingpu Dam ChengDu Online, www.cdol.net/BBS Scientists agree that dams can trigger earthquakes. A new research paper presents fresh evidence that the devastating earthquake which killed more than 80,000 people in China’s Sichuan Province in May 2008 was triggered by the Zipingpu Dam. This would be the world’s deadliest dam-induced earthquake ever. Reservoirs can trigger quakes by adding weight to the Earth crust, and by lubricating the fissures of faults. As I reported earlier on this blog, there are more than 70 earthquakes which scientists believe have been induced by dams. In the

Open Season on Patagonia's Rivers Takes Three Workers Lives

Rescue Efforts to Locate 3 Men on the Remote Río Cuervo Have Been Futile
Rescue Efforts to Locate 3 Men on the Remote Río Cuervo Have Been Futile With "open season" declared on Patagonia's rivers, the costs and risks of building dams in Patagonia are now fatally apparent. On September 1, a Zodiac raft carrying 5 men working for Energía Austral (a subsidiary of the Swiss mining giant Xstrata) turned over in the Río Cuervo, where Energía Austral currently proposes to build a 640 MW dam. Of those 5 men, two managed to get to shore with their lives. The three others, Moisés Aros Salgado, Mario Méndez Maldonado, and Edgardo Rogel Arteaga, have no

Traveling Down the Yangtze

New Fengdu by night
New Fengdu by night When my wife and I traveled down the Yangtze Valley and Three Gorges Reservoir last week, we were surprised by what we saw in New Fengdu. The town of 100,000, which was built eight years ago as a resettlement colony for the reservoir oustees, looks well-planned, hospitable, and prosperous. People gather in the park for their morning exercises, go about their business, and populate the beer gardens in the evening. Sure, we learned, the displaced people had not received sufficient compensation to pay for their new apartments. But New Fengdu has ample tourism and mineral res

200 More Brazilian Dams Could Fail

Aftermath of Algodões I Dam Failure
Aftermath of Algodões I Dam Failure archive In the wake of the Algodões I Dam tragedy, a specialist who works for Brazil's National Water Agency has estimated that 200 other dams could be in danger of failing. In an article in the Folha de São Paulo newspaper today, Rogério Menescal, who has mapped 7,000 large and small dams in Brazil for the government is quoted as saying that at least 200 of these are not being maintained, and urgently need repair. Menescal cited the recent failure of a series of small dams upstream from the city of Altamira, in Pará state

Death Toll Rises in Brazilian Dam Failure

Algodões I Dam, Piauí, Brazil after it Burst
Algodões I Dam, Piauí, Brazil after it Burst Archive The death toll from the rupture of Algodões I Dam has risen to seven, with at least three other people reported missing. Thousands are still without power, and 3,000 are homeless as a result of the tragedy.


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