China begins reef clearing operation in Three Gorges Reservoir

China begins blowing up reefs at the Three Gorges reservoir areas in southwest China on Sunday to ensure safety of future navigation in the river course.

More than 500 tons of nonpoisonous explosives will be used to destroy reefs at 14 places along the navigation channel from Fuling to Tongluo Gorge, a possible hidden danger for safe navigation when the water level at the reservoir areas rises to 156 meters by next June, said Lu Jing, deputy director of the Chongqing navigation channel engineering bureau.

"When the eight-month-long operation ends in June next year, the navigation channel at the Three Gorges is expected to become a waterborne expressway," said Lu, whose bureau is in charge of the blasting operation.

To minimize the effect on environment, operators have avoided choosing places where rare fish live through the winter for explosion, Lu said.

The construction of the Three Gorges Project, the world's biggest hydro-electric power project, began in 1993 and is expected to be completed in 2009. The Three Gorges Reservoir began to store water in June 2003.

The main dam of the project is expected to be completed in June 2006, when the water level of the Three Gorges Reservoir is believed to rise to 156 meters, greatly improving the navigation conditions on the Yangtze River.

Source: Xinhua

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