Damn, They Gorged: How soon will the Yangtze flood?

Remember the Wenzhou High Speed Rail crash from July 2011, when slipshod construction led to the deaths of 40 passengers?

Chinese anger over alleged cover-up of high-speed rail crash

Chinese authorities face growing public fury over the high-speed train crash that killed at least 38 people and injured 192, with the disposal of wreckage and attempts to control coverage of the incident prompting allegations of a cover-up.

[. . .]

Internet users attacked the government’s response to the disaster after authorities muzzled media coverage and urged reporters to focus on rescue efforts. “We have the right to know the truth!” wrote one microblogger called kangfu xiaodingdang. “That’s our basic right!”

Leaked propaganda directives ordered journalists not to investigate the causes and footage emerged of bulldozers shovelling dirt over carriages.

[. . .]

Hong Kong University’s China Media Project said propaganda authorities have ordered media not to send reporters to the scene, not to report too frequently and not to link the story to high-speed rail development. “There must be no seeking after the causes [of the accident], rather, statements from authoritative departments must be followed,” said one directive. Another ordered: “No calling into doubt, no development [of further issues], no speculation, and no dissemination [of such things] on personal microblogs!”

Remember the melamine contamination and poisoning in 2008 that killed children?  China’s continued use of forced slave labour in prisons?  The continued murder of political prisons for organs to feed the transplant tourist industry?  And recently the coverup of 40,000-150,000 deaths and mishandling of COVID-19?

Corruption and greed have been the backbone of China’s economic nightmare.  It’s just a matter of time before cracks appear in the dam of the mass murdering regime.  And that flood may burst through very soon.  This image of the Three Gorges Dam (TGD, on the Yangtze River) is from the Daily Mail UK (aka Daily Fail):

More below the fold.

The picture from 2019 shows several cases of warping in the TGD.  China claims this is due to “distorted satellite photos”.  They can argue that, but they can’t argue away the flooding and rain that their state-controlled media are reporting in June 2020The BBC is reporting the same thing.

China insists massive Three Gorges Dam is safe after satellite images show the ‘distorted’ structure is at risk of collapse

China’s controversial Three Gorges Dam, the world’s biggest hydropower project, is structurally sound, officials said, denying rumours on social media it was at risk of collapse.

Safety experts with the government-run China Three Gorges Corporation said on its official website that the Yangtze River dam had moved a few millimetres due to temperature and water level changes, but safety indicators remained well within their normal range.

They were responding to a Twitter user who posted satellite photos from Google Maps last week purporting to show the dam had bent and was at risk of breaking. The photos were circulated on domestic social media, sparking concerns over its structural integrity.

China has been inundated with rain this spring and now summer, and the Yangtze River has been overflowing.   The metropolis of Chongqing (pop. 30 million) has been flooded, and the regime, while still denying any problems, has begun evacuating people downriver from the dam.  If the dam breaks, the cities at risk include Jingzhou, Yueyang, Wuhan, Jiujiang, Nanjing, and several others.  That’s another thirty million people in the largest cities, plus others that line the river.

It would be an inland tsunami.  The regime continues to deny the danger, but even their own mouthpieces are warning people about flood waters.

News media in other countries report that the company which built the dam did its own inspection, that it was not approved by independent people.  Foreign engineers have inspected questioned its construction, and even hydrologist Wang Weiluo (王維洛, a PRC citizen) openly doubts its integrity.

The TGD is one of China’s (and the world’s) largest sources of electric power, producing 22,500 megawatts of power.  If it collapses, it could have catastrophic effects not just environmentally but also politically and economically.  China won’t just have to clean up the mess of flooded cities and lost lives, it will have to it without power.


  1. Bruce says

    On the one hand, I could believe the bending in the photo is all just sat map distortion.
    On the other hand, there seems to be a lot of evidence that Beijing prefers to cover things up, rather than to investigate for true causes and solutions. Which is a choice of theirs that diminishes the worlds trust in them, and a choice of theirs that increases worldwide suspicions of them.
    To me, it seems shortsighted. For each questionable situation, if they promoted independent investigations, I would bet that in most cases it would be found that it was improper action by local people. Or, in the worst case for Beijing, improper action by specific individuals in Beijing. In all these cases, Beijing could easily play the hero, by blaming the guilty, and crying that they were betrayed by individuals. Sure, they might occasionally have to throw one or two of their corrupt friends under the bus, or under the train, or under the dam, or whatever they say there. But in general, the central government has the skill and experience to deflect blame onto someone other than itself. So when they just cover up instead, it suggests that they have reason to believe that poor decisions were made at the very top of the national government. Otherwise, they would have investigated and found someone else to blame.
    So it is only Beijing’s choices that force everyone to assume Beijing knows it is corrupt. It seems the standards of evil dictatorships have really come down over the past few decades.

  2. kestrel says

    By pure coincidence I spent several hours yesterday learning how to monitor a dam. Therefore that second photo from 2019 is really horrifying to me. I’m terribly afraid that dam is doomed.

    This is terrifying. What the hell is the matter with people? That’s not just going to affect poor people that the rich and powerful don’t care about. It’s going to affect THEM. And of course the poor people, as well as the rest of us.

    • jagtig says

      Concrete doesn’t harden right away. It reaches max strength in 30 years. Thereafter it degrades. I see the possibility of improperly cured concrete bending like a semi-fluid under extreme pressures, possibly leaning, as well.

      The amount of rebar they used was pathetically short of what I have seen used in bridges, for example. And, they weren’t welded bundles of four or more, but far-spaced single pieces.

      Then, the photos are blue-water clear, which might be expected behind the still water of the dam, but some show all sluices shut off and some show two operative. This is explained by the need to reduce contribution to the flooding downstream caused by confluences with the Yangtze.

      However, the water level in the reservoir must rise, as a result, and the pressure against the dam just increases and increases.

      There was no refrigeration of the newly poured concrete that I know of, though there may have been retarders added. These weaken the set. If neither, then there are huge stresses in the mass of concrete, and explosive spalling may still occur, the same phenomenon that apparently destroyed a dam a few decades ago, killing 100,000 people outright by drowning. The front of the dam, one that looked a lot like the Three Gorges Dam, just blew out.

  3. xohjoh2n says

    Hmm. If I check out the Google Maps satellite view now (“Imagery ©2020 CNES / Airbus, Maxar Technologies”), it appears pretty damn square to me.

    On the other hand, if I switch to Globe View and play about with the 3D direction settings, it goes all hella crinkly, but it becomes clear that is all an artifact of the somewhat inaccurate topographic interpolation being done, then attempting to overlay the 2D-only satellite-view data on top of that model…

    Disable globe view and all is square again.

    (Quite frankly, if it *had* bent to extent implied by that photo above, I’d be *extremely* surprised that such a large concrete structure would have survived *at all*. That’s not to entirely dismiss the possibility of structural problems there, but the picture is no evidence at all.)

  4. xohjoh2n says

    (Just to be clear: there are two settings in Google Maps here: when in globe mode, there is a 2D/3D button that switches you between a straight-down view and free-direction view, but even the straight-down view is looking down at the 3D generated model and thus still has some visible artifacts due to the way the model is generated/rendered. There is a separate globe button that disables that mode entirely and goes to a straightforward flat rendering of the image data, no 3D model involved. You need to do that for the artifacts to go completely.)

    • jagtig says

      Can you do a “sworn to screen-shot” documenting what you are saying. A few, to the point where you have convinced yourself as well, would be great.

  5. kestrel says

    There may be people who think this is not a real threat. Please take a look at this article: https://www.taiwannews.com.tw/en/news/3951673 and please note the following quote:

    “Wang pointed out that the dam’s design, construction, and quality inspection were all carried out by the same group of people and that the project was finished too quickly.”

    Also please note the paragraph which says:

    “Rather than commenting on the validity of the images showing the dam’s warping a year ago, Wang said a more serious concern is the cracks and substandard concrete discovered during its construction.”

    This quote is from a PDF, https://www.publications.usace.army.mil/Portals/76/Publications/EngineerManuals/EM_1110-2-2300.pdf

    “While test data and instrument observations provide more detailed and quantitative information than visual observations, they serve principally to strengthen and supplement visual observations of the embankment and foundation as the various construction activities are going on.”

    While the above quote is from the Army Corps of Engineers regarding earthen rather than cement dams, I’m inclined to believe someone who witnessed the construction and has reported cement that is not satisfactory etc. I was involved in the building of a dam, and the rules are very strict. For example our cement could not be in the truck for over a certain amount of minutes, constricting us to using cement that was made very close to the site. The rules were not made up randomly by someone; they are there for a reason. All materials used in dam construction need to meet certain very important criteria. Ignoring this will not result in success.