Saturday, February 07, 2009

Ryan Pyle Blog: The Ziping Dam and The Quake


With all the news about China's Ziping Dam potentially causing the massive earthquake that struck Sichuan province on May 12th, I thought I would jump in with a quick comment. Above is a series of photographs I actually shot at the Ziping Dam near Dujiangyang just days after the quake struck.

When the earthquake struck many in Dujiangyang fled the city fearing that the dam would burst and flood the town, in the days that followed the officials in charge significantly reduced the amount of water held in the reservoir as there were aparent cracks. I have shots of some workers actually making repairs to the dam. Scary stuff.

Apparently half of all the dams in the world are in China, and I'm just guessing they are all of varying quality. The epicenter of the May 12th quake, which killed over 80,000 people, is said to be just 3km or so from the site of the of the Ziping Dam Reservoir. I've traveled far and wide in Sichuan and I can tell you that there are dams everywhere and construction is continuing on several projects larger than the Ziping Dam. More difficulties in the future?

It's been my experience that a lot of Chinese officials in small remote areas are big fans of dam construction because they require massive amounts of steel and concrete, business that local officials usually have their fingers in. While it's true that dams offer clean energy, it's apparent that larger projects have serious environmental consequences; not to mention all the people who have to relocate do to the reservoir. Below are links to the articles that have sparked all the chat.

SHARON LaFRANIERE for the New York Times wrote the following article: CLICK HERE

EVAN OSNOS for the New Yorker blogged about an interview he did in 2006 where a geological engineer he met with in Chengdu indicated a growing fear of too many dams on Sichuan's rivers: CLICK HERE for his blog.


Ryan Pyle

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This is Ryan Pyle. I appreciate you adding a comment to my blog and I hope that this space has offered you something useful and interesting. I look forward to staying in touch and I'm glad you took the time to comment.

Ryan Pyle