Trash threatens Chinese dam

Build-up could clog dam

A major hydroelectric dam on China’s Yangtze River relied upon for flood prevention and shipping is at risk of being blocked by thick layers of garbage that have collected downstream after rain downpours, according to The Associated Press.

Dam official Chen Lei told the Chinese media that almost 6 million pounds of tree branches, water bottles, shoes, Styrofoam and other domestic waste is being removed from the dam waters daily, but the efforts are not enough. More than a half-million square feet of trash has collected since China’s rainy season began in July, and some civilians have reported that the islands of debris are thick enough to stand on.

The Three Gorges Dam is the largest hydroelectric project in the world and was completed in 2006 to avoid flooding on the river (4,000 people died in 1998). Environmentalists have long warned Chinese officials that the reservoir could become filled with sewage and chemicals, causing erosion downstream and harm to the nearby city of Chongqing.