Dam Safety

Earthquake Shines Spotlight on Dam Safety in China

Zipingpu Dam was badly damaged in the earthquake of April 2008
Monday, September 15, 2008
September 2008 World Rivers Review The Wenchuan earthquake in Sichuan Province in April caused untold grief to tens of thousands of families. It also provoked a wave of generosity towards these victims from all levels of Chinese society, a response that was facilitated in part by journalists' ability to candidly report on the disaster. As Chinese Sociologist Zheng Yefu reflected, "Besides enormous grief and sorrow, we saw something new from any past disasters in China...the general public was well-informed about it." Zipingpu Dam was badly damaged in the earthquake of

Ecuador Tells Odebrecht: "Fix it or Clear Out!"

San Francisco Dam, Ecuador
San Francisco Dam, Ecuador Clifford J. Schexnayder Just a year ago, things were looking rosy for the Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht, which had just finished building a large dam in Ecuador, called San Francisco. Now, with serious problems with its turbines and conduction tunnels shutting down the 350 MW project, Ecuador´s President Rafael Correa has given Odebrecht a final ultimatum to fix its dam or leave the country. Odebrecht is probably the single company that has most benefited from South America´s infrastructure boom. Under a multilateral project called IIRSA, supp

Hidden Danger Behind Three Gorges Dam

Friday, May 30, 2003
Originally published in The Guardian As the huge reservoir behind China's controversial Three Gorges dam begins to fill up this weekend, an urgent rescue operation is being launched further upstream to save the dam from being choked by silt. The final go-ahead has been given for a new generation of four dams which are supposed to trap the silt on the Yangtze river's longest tributary, the Jinsha (Golden Sands) river. The scheme has been almost completely ignored so far in China and abroad. Alarmingly, it lies on the edge of a recognised seismic zone, a potential danger not mentioned in the few

Sichuan Earthquake Damages Dams, May Be Dam-Induced

Zipingpu Dam, Sep. 14, 2007
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Zipingpu Dam, Sep. 14, 2007 AP Photo/GeoEye Satellite Image The tragic Sichuan Earthquake of May 12, 2008, which killed an estimated 80,000 civilians, also damaged hundreds of dams in Sichuan Province. Soon after the earthquake struck, the Chinese government reported that at least 391 dams had been damaged in the quake, including major cracks on the largest dam in the area, the Zipingpu Dam. Since then, the Ministry of Water Resources has reported that as many as 2,380 dams were damaged in the earthquake. Scientists in China and the US also fear that the earthquake may have been induced by th

Eskom's role in the social and environmental degradation of the Zambezi

Tuesday, March 1, 2005
South Africa is one of the power houses of Africa with a strong private sector interested in spreading their investments throughout the continent. This could be of great benefit to sustainable development of other African countries were South African companies using the same standards they use at home. South Africa’s dialogued system arising from its new democracy had as one of its core goals the redress of the unbalances caused by apartheid, this contributed to the achievement of high social standards that have influenced positively its development. One such area is the water sector, wher

Notables Inundaciones Inducidas por Represas

Thursday, May 31, 2007
2007 "Represas, Ríos y Gente" Informe (DRP) Italia, octubre del 1963: La represa Vaiont, una de las más altas del mundo, produjo terremotos tan pronto comenzaron a llenar su embalse. Un temblor produjo derrumbes que cayeron al embalse, creando un enorme oleaje que superó a la represa en 110 metros. Unos dos minutos más tarde, se arrasó la población de Longarone, causando la muerte de casi todos sus 2000 habitantes. China, agosto del 1975: Por lo menos unas 230.000 personas murieron en un colapso estilo dominó de represas del río Huai - unas 85.000 en los ole

Wrong Climate for Damming Rivers

Hurricane Katrina, Category 5 Storm, Aug. 28, 2005
Proponents of large dams are hoping to capitalize on concern for climate change, and are promoting a major expansion of hydropower dams on critical rivers in developing countries. But it's the wrong climate for a dam-building boom. Big dams are at huge risk from climate change's impacts on river flows. Healthy rivers are also key to successful climate adaptation. And large reservoirs can be significant sources of greenhouse gases.

Remove or Repair?

Thursday, June 1, 2006
Dam Safety Concerns Provide Window of Opportunity for RestorationIn the aftermath of catastrophic flooding in New Orleans from Hurricane Katrina and extreme storm events in the Northeastern United States that brought several dams to the breaking point, renewed attention has been focused on the growing crisis of dam safety in the US. River-protection groups would like to turn this crisis into an opportunity for river restoration through the removal of obsolete and unsafe dams. These events brought attention to the need for stronger state and federal dam safety policies and programs, and the po

Dam–Induced Seismicity

Excerpt from Silenced Rivers: The Ecology and Politics of Large Dams, by Patrick McCully, Zed Books, London, 1996 Every dam site has unique geological characteristics. Gaining a thorough understanding of these characteristics is expensive and time–consuming: millions of dollars may have been spent on a geological survey before it finds that a site is unsuitable for a dam. It is therefore normal for dams to be designed with only a partial knowledge of local site conditions – the builders just have to hope that they will not find any unstable formations which will fail to support their

And The Walls Came Tumbling Down

Dam Safety Concerns Grow in Wake of Failures, Changing ClimateWorld Rivers Review, June 2005 By Patrick McCully It has been a bad year for dam safety. In February, five dams in Pakistan burst after torrential rains swelled local rivers. The biggest of these – the 35-meter Shadikor Dam – killed at least 80 people, injured many more and left 4,000 families homeless. The Shadikor Dam was only two years old. It appears that no warnings were given to people downstream. Two months later, at least 62 people died in a dam-created flash flood on the Narmada River in India. Again, there was no warni


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