Thrangu dam: safe for now

Thursday, April 22, 2010

According to reports, a dam near Thrangu (ཁྲ་འགུ་དགོན་ or "Changu" in Chinese media) monastery has been damaged. Many people, including nomads, had fled higher up into the mountains out of fear that the dam might collapse and the water in its reservoir will destroy the town of Jyekundo (སྐྱེ་རྒུ་མདོ) or Yushu (ཡུལ་ཤུལ / ཡུས་ཧྲུའུ).

This report from The Independent indicates that the dam is sitting like a time bomb that might cause another tragedy: "Emergency officials said the dam could burst at any time, putting 100,000 people in danger".

Thankfully it seems like the water in the reservoir of the dam has been drained and Jyekundo is safe for now.

Imagine what would have happened if the dam had bursted and its water swept the town of Yushu, minutes after the earthquake? Such concerns should be a wake up call for Chinese authorities to reconsider their dam building plans on the Tibetan Plateau, much of which is affected by seismic zones. See here, here and here for China's plans for hydropower development on the Tibetan Plateau.

Below are three Google Earth satellite images (click for larger view) of the dam and the town of Yushu. According to Google Earth, Yushu or Jyekundo is at an altitude of 3,685m and the upstream dam, located South, is at an altitude of 3,800m.


Anonymous said...

The article from the Independent is dated the 15th and the Tibetan Plateau has already reported on this dam previously. China has already averted this by releasing water nearly a week ago. There is no longer any danger from this dam.

travismccauley said...

I drove past on the the 16th and can confirm that water had been released. I think though that the major cause of the early road blockage between Jyegu and the airport was that pipes that channelled water from the reservoir to the power sttaion had all broken and flooded the road washing the hillside onto the road.

The Tibetan Plateau Blog said...

Thanks for your feedback folks. I was wondering about the situation and your responses and others confirm that water had been released. This is good news.

DavidRG said...

Hello all. I am an engineer actively engaged in earthquake engineering of dams (primarily embankment dams in the United States). I had not previously heard about Thrangu Dam. Could anyone direct me to more information about its construction and the damage? Case histories from which we can learn about safety of dams in earthquakes are not common, so I do not want to let this chance go by.

Thank you.