CLIMATE ADAPTATION

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Threatens millions of lives. Possible government corruption. China has 87,000 dams and reservoirs, many used for hydropower and thousands already on fault zone. Dam breaks from earthquakes exacerbate environmental destruction.

"More than 130 large dams built, under construction, or proposed in western China’s seismic hazard zones could trigger disastrous environmental consequences such as earthquakes and giant waves, finds a new report from the Canadian watchdog group Probe International.

The report shows that 98.6 percent of the dams being constructed in western China are located in high to moderate seismic hazard zones.

The location of large dams near clusters of recorded earthquakes with magnitudes greater than 4.9, and especially when the earthquake focal points are also close to the surface, “is cause for grave concern,” said the report’s author geologist “John Jackson.”

John Jackson is a pseudonym for a geologist with detailed knowledge of western China who wishes to remain anonymous to protect his sources.

In a worst-case scenario, Jackson reports, dams could collapse, creating a giant wave that would inundate everything in its path, including downstream dams, causing great loss of life and property.

Should a dam suffer catastrophic collapse, says Probe International Executive Director Patricia Adams, Chinese citizens could direct their anger to the hydropower industry for threatening their lives with dangerous dams.

To pierce the Chinese government’s secrecy over its dam building, the Probe report overlays a Chinese map of dam locations with U.S. Geological Survey earthquake data and a United Nations’ seismic hazard map.”

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