China defended environment protections for the Three Gorges dam yesterday, playing down reports of unusual seismic activity that residents hold responsible for crumbling homes, landslides and other problems with shifting ground.
All "disadvantages" related to the dam had been foreseen before construction began in 1993, Wang Xiaofeng, deputy director of the Three Gorges Project Construction Committee, told reporters at a special news conference.
"We have ... acknowledged the existence of these disadvantages. The problem is how to tackle the disadvantages, and in time, the decisions will prove to be scientific and correct," Wang said.
His determinedly upbeat remarks appeared to be the government's latest effort at damage control following warnings and claims by environmentalists and residents of the reservoir's destructive impact on regions along its banks.
Local residents have reported landslides, minor earthquakes and fissures in the ground near the dam's 660km-long reservoir, a possible result of pressure caused by the mass of water in the reservoir and from the impact of water on formerly dry and porous rocks.
Wang was vague on what measures had been taken to deal with the problems, but said the government had invested 10 billion yuan (US$1.3 billion) in dealing with geological threats posed by the massive structure and its reservoir.
"The geological disaster in this area has been effectively controlled," he said.
"That is not to say that in the future there will not be dangerous phenomenon [sic] -- including landslides -- but we believe that the Chinese government has paid attention to this ... and there will not be any major damage to the lives and property of the people along the Yangtze River," Wang was quoted as saying.