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China to Build its Largest Hydroelectric Dam

China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP) has given the go-ahead for the construction of what will become the country’s tallest hydroelectric dam despite acknowledging that it will have an impact on plants and rare fish. The move met with criticism from experts due to the potential damage to the environment.

The Shuangjiangkou hydro-power dam will be on the Dadu River in southwestern Sichuan Province. It will be 314 meters (1,030 feet) high. A subsidiary of the State power firm, China Guodian Corporation, will build it over a 10 year period. The cost has been estimated to be 24.68 billion yuan ($4.02 billion) in investment.

The MEP said an environmental impact assessment had acknowledged that the project would have a negative impact on rare fish and flora and affect protected local nature reserves. The project still requires the formal approval of the State Council.

Experts argued that the dam would alter the patterns of discharge and the degradation of pollutants and be followed by changes in water quality. The construction may generate geological instability, there may be a major safety threat during the construction, and it may bring disastrous consequences in the operation phase. Considering the ethnic composition of the local minority population, their cultural practices, and their living habits, their cultural heritage would be lost and resettlement would be very difficult. Further, due to the changes in the aquatic ecological environment, local rare fish would not survive.

Source: Polaris Hydroelectric, May 13, 2013