Dams near Yellow River are “fragile”

Chinese news media say several hastily constructed dams on tributaries of the Yellow River in arid north-east China are near collapse shortly after being built, Reuters reported. At least five newly built dams in Huan county, in Gansu province, are “in very fragile condition,” China Daily said, citing a report from the China Youth Daily.

China Daily quoted water resources minister Chen Lei as saying: “As flood season approaches in July, August and September, China’s dam safety is coming under heavy pressure.” Chen added that inspections have shown that many dams are not in good condition.

Improper construction procedures, shoddy materials and diversion of funds by government departments all have contributed to fragile dams, China Daily said. The 2008 earthquake in Sichuan province, near a river with numerous dams, drew attention to the risks posed by the thousands in China.

Chen noted that 59 dams across the country were breached from 1999 to 2008, 20 because of quality defects and the remainder due to torrential rains. One dam in Huan county developed a breach more than 10 meters wide just two years after it was constructed in 2006.

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