News Release

Are Neglected Dams Time Bombs?


Leslie’s latest book, Deep Water: The Epic Struggle Over Dams, Displaced People, and the Environment, won the J. Anthony Lukas Work-in-Progress Award and was named one of the top science books of the year by Discover magazine.

He said today: “Reports indicate that there are 391 small dams in the vicinity of the earthquake that have been damaged. There is one larger one where 2,000 soldiers have been deployed. It has been well know that dams can cause earthquakes for some time and there is even speculation that the reservoir behind the massive Three Gorges Dam could have helped trigger this earthquake.

“China has more dams than any other country and many of them have the worst construction. They are frequently prestige projects but once completed, too little money is allocated for maintenance.

“We have some of the same problems here in the U.S. — in 2005, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave United States dams a D. Many of these are privately owned and in some cases the owners don’t have the money for upkeep, making many dams time bombs.”
More Information

For background see:

The BBC’s “Earthquake dams pose floods risk,” which includes video of a damaged dam being inspected

Leslie’s recent article in Mother JonesThe Last Empire: Can the World Survive China’s Rush to Emulate the American Way of Life?

His piece in the New York TimesBefore the Flood

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167