UPDATE – China hydro operator reports quake deaths, losses

Hydropower operator Sichuan Minjiang Hydropower Co. Ltd. reported the May 12 China earthquake cost it 11 employees killed, three injured, and others missing, plus 269 million renminbi (US$38.7 million) in direct economic losses.

Minjiang, a major operator in Sichuan Province, the quake epicenter, said seven of its hydropower projects totaling 150.7 MW and 27 transmission lines were severely damaged. State-run Xinhua news agency identified three damaged Minjiang plants in Wenchuan County, 46-MW Caopo, 36-MW Shapai, and Futangdi. It said several transformer stations also were damaged or destroyed.

Minjiang estimated it would need 2 billion renminbi (US$288 million) for its own reconstruction work.

The official death toll from the 7.9 magnitude quake had reached more than 68,000 by May 28 and was expected to increase, with nearly 20,000 listed as missing. Aftershocks on May 27 toppled 420,000 houses, many already uninhabitable.

Government evacuates 150,000 below “quake lake”

The government has evacuated more than 150,000 people living below a swollen lake formed by quake-caused landslides that blocked the Jianjiang River above the town of Beichuan in Sichuan.

Downstream from Tangjiashan lake, one of 35 such “quake lakes,” residents were evacuated overnight as engineers dug a diversion channel to prevent flooding. Up to 1.3 million people could be relocated if the lake barrier collapses entirely, China Daily said. The water level continued to rise with the sluice not expected to be complete for another week.

Chinese officials say they will review 13 proposed hydropower projects in the country’s southwest after the massive earthquake, but expect no major changes to the proposals. (HNN 5/27/08)

“We are going to review these projects from the geological conditions and environmental impact after the quake,” Chief Engineer Liu Ning of the Ministry of Water Resources told a May 25 news conference. �But we foresee no big change to the plans.

The southwest, including Sichuan Province, worst hit by the earthquake, is the country’s hydropower base. Hydropower supplies more than a tenth of China’s electricity needs.

The 7.9-magnitude tremor that hammered Sichuan two weeks ago damaged 27 out of the 29 power stations along the Min River and knocked out 4,400 MW of power supply. (HNN 5/19/08) China quickly restored most of the lost power supply, including the 760-MW Zipingpu hydroelectric plant on the Min, E Jingping, Vice Minister of Water Resources, said.

China’s State Grid Corp. said it would boost power supply to Sichuan by diverting about 1,000 MW from neighboring regions as peak summer use nears.

Chinese media also reported Sichuan will stop exporting 500 MW during the June-August period, as the hydropower-rich province used to do to help meet rising demand from the coastal belt. Central Henan Province and the eastern China grid will divert a total of 1,000 MW to Sichuan during the peak months, the 21st Century Business Herald newspaper said.

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