5 Shocking Photos Of China's Not-So-Green Three Gorges Dam


As the world's largest source of so-called 'clean' hydroelectric power, China's controversial Three Gorges dDam promised to provide friendly energy to millions.

Built on the Yangtze River in the Hubei Province at a cost of $22.5 billion, the dam was completed in 2006 and has a combining generating capacity of 22.5 million kilowatts (22,500 megawatts), the equivalent of fifteen15 nuclear reactors, and was a crucial part of China's 'green' initiative to solve its massive energy crisis.

It also required more than 1.4 million people to be relocated from towns, cities, and villages to make way for the giant dam.

While most Chinese citizens hoped the colossal project would be worth the cost, the disastrous environmental repeurcussions that have sprung since then prove otherwise.

1. It was dangerous from the get-go

The project, which began in 1993, came with dangerous risks that the weight of the reservoir would "alter China's geology, uproot millions of people, poison water supplies by trapping pollution, and disrupt the Yangtze watershed."

Creating a reservoir stretching up to 370 miles, the once gorgeous Three Gorgeous region is now plagued with floating debris and filth.

2. It forms thick and vast garbage patches

Thousands of tons of garbage are seasonally washed down into the Yangtze River by torrential rain and flooding to create vast floating islands of garbage and debris.

In some regions, the crust of rubbish is so thick that one can literally walk on it.

3. It is incredibly overwhelming for cleanup crews

The floating garbage has overwhelmed local cleanup crews working in the Yangtze River in Yichange, Central China's Hubei province.

In August 2010, nearly three tons of waste were collected from the dam every day, but operators still struggled due to lack of manpower and equipment.

4. It is a very expensive ordeal

The China Three Gorges Corporation spends about 10 million yuan ($1.5 million) per year to clear floating waste. 

But multiple nearby cities continue to dump household garbage directly into the river due to municipalities' lack of trash disposal resources.

5. It is and will continue to be horrible for the ecosystem

By slowing down the normally quick flowing river, the dam has caused silt to settle on the riverbed and damage existing ecosystems.

In addition to boosting existing problems such as pollution levels and water-borne diseases, the stagnant reservoir will continue to weaken the riverbank and threatens to displace another 100,000 people due to erosion.