Three Gorges Dam

  
 - darkometer rating:  3 -
 
The largest hydroelectric project in the world, in China. The Dam itself is nearly a mile and a half long and 600 feet high. Its purpose is not only to generate power but also to help prevent catastrophic floods and improve navigation of the Yangtze river.
 
So why is it a dark site? Well, apart from its physical size it is also one of the most controversial such project ever – worries about the Dam's impact include profound damage to the surrounding ecosystem, seismic effects (earthquakes) due to the reservoir's enormous weight, landslides, silting up, etc., etc., and, of course, the risk that it might not withstand the waters (and that could cause a catastrophe of unprecedented proportions for the millions of people living behind the Dam).
The Dam project has already caused considerable damage and problems, not least to the well over a million people who had to be moved from their homes to higher ground. Because of corruption, many people have often not even received the promised compensation.
 
Many cultural treasures are also being flooded by the reservoir. Attempts at rescuing them by moving them elsewhere have in many cases been half-hearted or even impossible from the start. Landslides have already occurred.
 
Pollution has begun to be a problem and silting may in any case limit the Dam's life span. Cracks are already showing on the Dam (there are accusations of corruption having led to inferior building materials being been used).
 
All in all, it's a monster in every respect – and thus also a destination for the dark tourist. Since the Chinese still revel at showing it off, though, a visit to the Dam is part of many tour programmes, not least the still very popular cruises on the Yangtze and (what is left of) the Three Gorges – long fabled as one of the most dramatic landscapes in China. They may have lost a bit of their appeal through the higher waters, but are they are still pretty impressive and remain firmly on China's prime tourist trail.  
 
Google maps locator: [30.824,111.004]
 
 

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