Chinese rescuers question dam safety

Scott Tong Apr 15, 2010
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Chinese rescuers question dam safety

Scott Tong Apr 15, 2010
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TEXT OF STORY

Stacey Vanek-Smith: Meanwhile, China is picking up the pieces after a devastating earthquake rocked western China. Among the damages: a major hydroelectric dam, a critical source of power in the region. From Shanghai, Marketplace’s Scott Tong has more.


Scott Tong: Chinese state media report the dam was cracked by the quake and faces risk of collapse. Rescuers are patching it, and water is being released to ease pressure. The rescue effort has some Chinese geologists wondering if the dam was built to high enough safety standards, or if dam builders cut corners.

Outside groups like International Rivers have expressed concern for years. Peter Bosshard is policy director:

Peter Bosshard: Dams in China, and particularly the older dams, have a very bad safety record. Thousands of smaller dams have collapsed.

Sometimes, he says, dam operators don’t pay enough attention to nearby seismic activity.

Bosshard: Monitoring is not as thorough as it should be. Often they try to wiggle out of this responsibility.

China has half the world’s biggest dams. It produces more hydropower than anyone else. And it’s exporting its dam-building. Bosshard’s group estimates Chinese firms are building or financing more than 200 projects in 49 countries.

In Shanghai, I’m Scott Tong for Marketplace.

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