Newspaper article Coffs Coast Advocate (Coffs Harbour, Australia)

Rollin' Down the River - How Gorges!

Newspaper article Coffs Coast Advocate (Coffs Harbour, Australia)

Rollin' Down the River - How Gorges!

Article excerpt

Byline: David Ellis

MOST hail it China's greatest building job since the Great Wall was started in the 7th century BC and took 2000 years to finish.

But while the Three Gorges Dam has so far taken just 15 years of hard yakka and has another two to go, it's also attracted its fair share of doomsayers, self-anointed structural genii and general ratbags.

A massive 2km-wide barrier of steel and concrete across the great Yantze River in China's south-east, the dam has already cost over AU$50-billion and will soak up another $10b before doing everything its being built to do: generate a whopping 22,500MW of electricity, control flooding in the lower Yangtze in wetter months, and release water to these areas in drier times.

In the process of building this gargantuan wall that's 101-metres high, 115 through at its base and twice as wide as the Sydney Harbour Bridge and its approaches are long, over 1.24 million people had to be re-located to newly-created towns and cities as their original communities slowly drowned under a spreading 23-trillion litres of water.

And thousands of cultural and historical relics were also moved to the safety of higher ground - while one 200-year old temple and a rare, attached nine-storey wooden pavilion had another dam built around them, leaving them sitting on what's now an island within the growing 1000-sq km reservoir.

The doomsayers and their hangers-on have been having a field day knocking all this, pointing out that 1300 archaeological sites have been lost forever under the dam's 100-metre deep waters, and claiming that with the pressure of so much water behind it, the dam will one day burst like an over-ripe lychee and wipe out millions living along the Yangtze below it.

Or that in a good earthquake the whole lot will come tumbling down with the same catastrophic results, while Siberan Crane will lose their winter-holiday wetlands on the Yangtze, the river's population of indigenous sturgeon will be virtually wiped out by human intervention in the natural flow of the river, and that its dolphins will go the same way. …

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