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Yangtze River pollution
The Yangtze River is becoming increasingly polluted, according to an official Chinese government report. The findings raise fresh concerns about the potential health risks of the controversial Three Gorges Dam, which is set to start holding back water in 2003.
Sewage and industrial waste dumping totalled 23.4 billion tonnes in 2001, up 11 per cent on the figure for 2000, says Chinese news agency Xinhua. The report by the Yangtze River Water Resources Authority also concludes that stretches of the 6212 kilometre-long river are too polluted for human use.
The 181-metre high Three Gorges Dam - the world's largest hydropower project - will create a 643-mile long reservoir of Yangzte water, which some critics claim will be the world's largest cesspool.
In May 1998, public health researchers writing in the medical journal The Lancet warned that the Three Gorges Dam "could become the Chernobyl of hydropower".
"That's because the reservoir would be carrying so many diseases and vectors for epidemics of malaria, schistosomiasis, encephalitis - which are often pollution-related," says Doris Shen of the California-based International Rivers Network.