|Photo taken on Oct. 26, 2010 shows the Three Gorges Dam and the reservoir (on the left side of the dam) after the water level reached 175 meters, its designed maximum, at 9 a.m. Tuesday in Yichang, central China's Hubei Province. (Xinhua/Cheng Min)
YICHANG, Hubei Province, Oct. 28 (Xinhua) -- Criticism has always haunted China's Three Gorges Project on the Yangtze River.
The latest concerns have been its effect on the Earth's rotation, as the water level at the world's largest hydropower project reached its designed highest mark of 175 meters on Tuesday.
Typing the key words "three gorges earth rotation," Google's search engine showed 3,280 results, many with such sensational headings as "China's Monster Three Gorges Dam Will Slow The Rotation of The Earth."
"This is just an updated version of earlier criticism claiming the project would trigger earthquakes due to its mass," said Chen Houqun, a member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering.
He said the Three Gorges is the world's largest hydro-power project, in terms of its installed power generating capacity and dam construction, not its maximum water holding capacity of 39.3 billion cubic meters, which only ranks 22nd in the world.
Prior to the 1960s, there had already been six reservoirs on Earth, each with a water holding capacity larger than the Three Gorges. The largest one is in Zimbabwe, and the smallest in Canada.
"Compared with them, the effect of the Three Gorges on the Earth's rotation can be ignored," said the academician.
Cao Guangjing, chairman of China Three Gorges Project Corporation (CTGPC), developer of the project, said since the dam began "trial operations" at high water levels of close to 175 meters this year, the largest earth tremor detected near the reservoir area was measured at 2.3 on the Richter scale and located in Badong County, Chongqing Municipality.