Three Gorges Dam

The beginning of the Three Gorges Dam project was met by dissent from the Chinese and outsiders. Right away there was an ethical decision made by the promoters of the dam. The Premier of China at the time Li Peng had too much devotion for the project and did not take in to consideration outside views. A project supporter cannot be blinded by the benefits of a project and ignore many of the costs. In the case of the dam Li Peng pushed the project through the government even when some had grave concerns. He also did not give much attention to those that were against the project since it might delay the entirety of it if every flaw was examined. An economist named Mao Yushi in China at the time had a book which criticized the dam project, but it became banned. Even some of the environmentalists that spoke out against the dam were jailed. The public was not even involved for the planning too as they had little say in the project. This ethical decision would later come back affect the dam as many of the concerns made early on became true.

Another problem with the dam is that it downstream from a heavily industrialized part of China. Most of the factories are spewing out pollution into the rivers upstream so that it can be dumped away as fast as possible. The problem the dam brought was that the pollution did not disappear right away once it was operational, but stagnated in many areas. China had to decide what to do with all the trash and pollution that was being pushed downstream. One decision made to mitigate the problems was to collect the 3,000 tons of trash daily to clean the river up. This only temporarily fixes the problem as each day a new batch of trash is pushed down the river. Another environmental issue is with the silting up of the dam. It is thought that one day the dam will need to release much water to alleviate the problem. As seen China has decided to push away the problems into the future and hope that they will be solved before anything bad happens.

The next ethical issue was dealing with all the people and towns in the way of the dam and river. Thirteen cities and 140 towns are now submerged by the dam. It was a massive problem to move that many people and find a new home for them. Also, many of the towns and places that needed to be relocated were historical sites that could not be moved. China decided that the dam project was more important than some of the homes and historical sites. It became necessary to move them to new cities and even build some to make sure there was room. This was difficult for many of the families because they had to adjust to a new life.

Another dilemma from the dam is that it might be causing seismic activity in the area. Even some scientists have attributed the dam to major earthquakes that have killed thousands of Chinese. The decision to build the dam has caused a great amount of loss in life. The leaders of the project had to accept the fact that the dam might cause deaths. However, it also has saved many lives too by preventing flooding in the region. The dam also has led to the extinction of the Yangtze River dolphin another victim of the project. The cost of life is difficult to weigh in the project, but it is important to decide on what is ethically sound.

As a project manager is important to understand conflicting viewpoints and bring outside opinions for a project. I would make sure members on the project do not solely see one outcome as they might ignore any problems that might arise. The project management team should also have a diverse group of people working on the dam project. It would need to include all the engineers as well as environmentalists. The management team should also have people supporting the views of the residents relocating. Lastly, the government would need to play more of an advisory role to make sure that each side is properly represented. If the residents or environmentalist do not feel like they have enough say then the government needs to step in to make sure the project is well balanced.

The environmental concerns should be addressed by the project manager before any building is even started. The project manager should work closely with the environmentalists to decide how to minimize any risks from the dam. The management team needs to have steps to improve the environment if there are any serious damages to the region. The team should regularly evaluate the changes to the environment and decide the cost and benefit of each part of the project. The government again needs to be in a monitoring role to make sure that no parts of the project destroy the environment. The government should have a criteria on the degree that the environment can be altered. Most importantly the government should list some of the alternatives the dam project could do to even out the environmental impact.

The relocation of the residents should be addressed immediately by the project manager. As the manager I would try to inform residents as early as possible in the planning stage so that they can prepare. It is important for the residents to understand the changes that will be happening. The management team would need to have members of the towns moving so that they can understand the reasons for their move. They could also help out with any of the problems later on with the relocation as the residents might be affected for years. The government should work closely with the towns and cities to decide where they can relocate. Since it would be difficult to move everyone at once there should be stages implemented by the government. The government should be involved if there are any historical sites so that they might be preserved or moved if possible. Also the government might be helpful to ease in the residents to the new locations as there might be major cultural differences between the residents. The government could work with the new locations to make sure that the residents have a job when they move which would make the transition easier.

One ethical issue that a project might face in the United States is dealing with strikes of the workers. The workers might strike for higher wages or more time off in the project. This could cause major delays to project schedule and would need to address immediately. As a project manager I would set goals and benefit the workers who are able to meet them. If workers wanted to strike I would try to work with them before any major delays to the project are made. The project management team should have leaders from across the project report in on any disruptions or major problems with the project. It would be important for the team to approve any raises to the workers and work on improvements of the project with them. The government would probably need to implement strict controls on the length of a strike. Since a strike could delay the project by a lot and increase the cost it would be important for the government to keep everything on schedule.

An issue that might delay a dam project in the United States would be on the financing of the project. It would not be easy to finance such a large project as the Three Gorges Dam is estimated at $22.5 billion. The government would need to gain much support from the public before proceeding with the project. Also, since the dam project would be affecting a portion of the country not everyone would think it is beneficial.  Also, the companies working on the project would probably profit from it and the government would not look very good if some companies were make immense profits. It would be a difficult balance between the amount companies are able to make and what to do if there are any delays. There might even be large costs overruns and that could cause the project to be delayed even longer or even canceled. As seen in China the Three Gorges Project had an important project champion that was almost able to push it through all of the bureaucracy.  There would need to be someone just as important to champion the project, but also gain public support for it. Since in the United States it is unlikely that one person is able to have that much influence over a project there would need to be broad support for it.

The project might face delays or not be completed in the United States if the right amount of workers is not attained. There could be a labor shortage if the project requires many high skilled workers in construction and there are problems with the economy. The project might even need migrant workers from places like Mexico to finish the project. This could even turn into an ethical problem after completion of the dam since many of the workers might be forced to return to their home country.

The available resources for the project might become low during certain stages. For example, the amount of cement would be extremely high for the dam and that could cause shortages for other parts of the region. The project would need to monitor the many materials that go into the dam. Also, the suppliers for the materials could have issues which might even delay the project or cause significant costs. The cement used in the dam could be found to be to deteriorate after a few years causing major structural issues. In that case the entire project could be canceled or take on significant costs to repair it. This is similar to Boeings current dilemma with their battery which has caused delays on their aircraft since a supplier battery had issues.

Another factor that might impede the project is public opinion for the project. In the beginning of the project many people might be supportive of it, but after delays they do not want it anymore. This might cause a reduced budget or shorten schedule for it since the funds are no longer as large. The project would have to be adaptable to such changes and have a contingency plan. As seen a project in the United States would have many factors that could alter or stop the project. It would be important for the project manager, team, and government to work together when deciding how to deal with them.