On November 24, 1999, a.m., we started a tour of the construction site by viewing some models at the Reception Center of the Three Gorges Dam. This as well as the actual site visit was under the direction of
Mr. Li Junlin
Three Gorges General Corporation
Yangtze River Engineering Bureau
People's Republic of China
Mr. Li Junlin addressed us stating that the purposes of the project in order of priority are Flood Control, Navigation and Electric Power Generation. The dam is at elevation 185 meters at the top, with the lowest stream bed elevation being 10 meters. The dam will be 2309 meters long at the crest and will contain more concrete than any other dam in the world. There are 22 overflow spillways and 23 bottom outlets with a total maximum flow of 100,000 cubic meters per second. There will be 26 turbines capable of generating 18,200 megawatts. The power production from the dam and the nearby Gezhouba Dam will produce about 10 percent of China's 1998 demand and replace coal consumption to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 100,000,000 tons per year.
The penstocks bringing water to the turbines are 12.4 meters in diameter lined with steel 36 mm thick. There are three outlet tunnels leading to the tailrace for each turbine.
As far as the navigation is concerned, currently the Gorges will accommodate 3,000 ton vessels. Upon completion, the reservoir will take 10,000 ton vessels. Traversing the dam through five locks will take about 2 hours and 40 minutes to go through the upstream or downstream locks. There is also a ship lift that will accommodate 3,000 ton vessels. The moving part of the ship lift including water and ship weighs 12,000 tons. The lift will take 9 minutes with total time of passage equal to 40 minutes.
The Gezhouba Dam was completed in 1988 downstream of the Three Gorges Dam site. This blocked the migration of sturgeon for spawning. The Chinese planted hatchery-produced sturgeon downstream of this dam. The sturgeon are now returning to THAT location to spawn.
We visited the rock crusher site and observed rock being hauled to the crusher in trucks. There is 600,000 cubic meters of crushed rock being produced per month.
On the site, we observed aggregate travelling the length of the dam on conveyor belts. The concrete was being handled by cranes and buckets. There were 5 sites receiving concrete from 5 batch plants.
The geologists report that the greatest credible earthquake in the dam area is 5.2 Richter. The dam is designed for 7.0 Richter.
Notes by Mr. William G. Catlin
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