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China Experiences a Fracking Boom, and All the Problems That Go With It

来源:纽约时报    2019-03-12 02:42

        GAOSHAN, China — The first earthquake struck this small farming village in Sichuan Province before dawn on Feb. 24. There were two more the next day.        中国四川高山镇——2月24日天还没亮,四川省的这个小村子就遭遇了第一次地震。第二天又发生了两次。
        Sichuan is naturally prone to earthquakes, including a major one in 2008 that killed nearly 70,000 people, but to the rattled villagers of Gaoshan, the cause of these tremors was human-made.        四川本来就容易地震,2008年发生的重大地震夺走了近7万人的生命。但在高山镇受了惊吓的村民看来,最近这些地震的原因是人为的。
        “The drilling,” Yu Zhenghua said as she tearfully surveyed her damaged home, still officially uninhabitable five days later.        “钻井,”余正华说,同时正流着泪查看自己受损的家,地震发生五天后,她的家已被官方宣布为无法住人。
        The drilling Ms. Yu referred to was hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. The technology, which has revolutionized the production of natural gas and oil in the United States, has created a boom in China, too, and with it many of the controversies that have dogged the practice elsewhere.        余正华所说的钻井指的是“水力压裂法”。这项技术已在美国带来了天然气和石油生产革命,也在中国导致了页岩气开采的激增,以及许多随之而来的、一直困扰着其他地方的争议。
        In the hours after the quakes, thousands of residents converged outside the main government building in Rong County to protest widespread fracking in the rolling hills and valleys here now yellowing with the flowering of rapeseed.        在地震发生后的几小时里,数千居民聚集在荣县政府大楼外,抗议在这个山峦起伏的河谷地带大范围开采页岩气。眼下这里正开满了金色的油菜花。
        The protesters jostled with security guards along a sliding metal gate and dispersed only after officials announced they had suspended fracking operations of a regional subsidiary of China National Petroleum Corporation, the country’s largest oil and gas producer.        抗议人群与保安警卫隔着一道金属滑动大门相互推挤,直到官员宣布,他们已暂停了中国最大的石油天然气生产商“中国石油天然气集团公司”(简称“中国石油”)下属的一个区域分公司的页岩气作业后才散去。
        China, like the United States and other countries, has embraced the fracking revolution in hopes of weaning itself from its dependence on foreign energy sources. But the public fury that unexpectedly boiled over in Gaoshan underscores the social and environmental challenges the country must overcome — even in a tightly controlled political system.        与美国和其他国家一样,中国已经拥抱了页岩气革命,以期摆脱对进口能源的依赖。但公众的怒火在高山镇的意外爆发突显了即使在中国严格控制的政治体制下,国家也有必须解决的社会和环境挑战。
        “Sichuan is a major earthquake zone, so there is clearly a risk,” said Philip Andrews-Speed, a geologist with the Energy Studies Institute of the National University of Singapore. He added that the government should conduct a thorough and transparent study of causes of the temblors in order to reassure those who live nearby.        “四川是一个主要的地震多发区,所以显然地存在着风险,” 新加坡国立大学能源研究所(National University of Singapore Energy Studies Institute)地质学家菲利普·安德魯斯-斯皮德(Philip Andrews-Speed)说。他补充说,为了让住在附近的居民安心,政府应当进行一次彻底、透明的调查,查明这些地震发生的原因。
        The three earthquakes killed two people and wounded 13. More than 20,000 homes in three villages suffered damage and nine collapsed completely, according to a statement by the county. About 1,600 people were displaced, forced to move in with relatives or to live temporarily in 470 blue tents distributed by the authorities.        三次地震共造成2人死亡,13人受伤。据荣县政府发布的通报,三个村子里有逾2万间房屋受损,9间房屋倒塌。近1400人被转移安置,其中一些搬到了亲戚家,还有一些临时住进了当局分发的470顶蓝色帐篷。
        The suspension of operations — which remains in effect — stilled 15 sites in the area affected by the quakes, pending a survey by officials from Sichuan Province, according to an official for the Rong County government, Huang Jing.        暂停作业的宣布目前仍有效,受地震影响地区的15个页岩气水力压裂平台已停止作业,等待四川省官员的调查结果,荣县政府官员黄静说。
        It has not affected fracking operations elsewhere in the region, a center of the fracking boom. China National Petroleum alone has invested $4 billion in fracking shale gas in the Sichuan Basin over the last decade, Xinhua, the state-run news agency, reported last November.        四川盆地是页岩气生产激增的一个主要地区,该地区其他地方的水力压裂作业未受影响。据国家通讯社新华社去年11月报道,过去十年来,仅中国石油一家就已在四川盆地的页岩气勘探开发上投入了280亿元。
        China National Petroleum declined to comment on the issue. The nation’s other major oil and gas producer, Sinopec, which also operates in the province, also declined to comment.        中国石油拒绝对有关事宜置评。中国另一家在该省有开采作业的主要油气生产商中国石化也拒绝置评。
        The website for the regional subsidiary of China National Petroleum, however, later shared a blog post suggesting that the suspension in Rong County was unnecessary. Compared to the loss of economic development, the post said, seismic activity caused by drilling for shale gas was “the lesser of two evils.”        但中国石油的地区分公司网站上后来转载过一篇博客文章,表示荣县暂停作业的做法没有必要。该博文称,与不开采给经济发展造成的损失相比,页岩气开采引发的地震活动是“两害相权取其轻”。
        For many residents of the area, that choice is far from clear.        对许多该地区的居民来说,选择远不是这么清楚。
        Wu Shirong was in the shower when the second quake struck on Feb. 25. “This was the scariest one,” he said, though by magnitude the one that followed four and a half hours later was the strongest of the three, measuring 4.9 on the Richter scale, according to China’s geological service.        2月25日发生两天里的第二次地震时,吴拾荣正在洗澡。“这次是最吓人的,”他说,虽然从震级上看,四个半小时之后的第三次地震是最强烈的,据中国地震台网发布的信息,第三次地震的震级为4.9。 
        Cracks spread across the ceiling of his house, which was declared unsafe. He is now living in one of the tents with his in-laws in the driveway outside. “Where can I sleep if I don’t sleep here?” he said.        吴家房子的屋顶上出现了裂缝,后来被宣布为危房。他现在和亲家一起住在房外车道上支起的政府分发帐篷里。“不在这儿睡在哪儿睡啊?”他问道。
        Ms. Yu’s house appeared more badly damaged. The retaining wall that holds up her property along a steep hillside buckled and seemed on the verge of collapse. Deep cracks gouged the stuccoed brick walls of the two-story house her son built with his earnings. Her son and daughter-in-law, like many Chinese, moved to a city in the southern region of Guangxi for work.        余正华的房子看来受到的损失更严重。她的房子建在一个陡峭的山坡上,支撑山坡的挡土墙已经变形,看上去处于倒塌的边缘。她两层楼的房子是用儿子挣来的钱盖的,房子的灰泥砖墙上出现了深深的裂痕。她的儿子和儿媳和许多中国人一样离开了农村,在广西省南部的一个城里打工。
        “My house was built only 12 years ago,” she said, “and now it is like this.”        “我的房子才修12年,”她说,“现在就成这样了。”
        The local authorities have promised to repair the damage. They have not acknowledged any link between the tremors and fracking, which involves injecting chemicals and sand at high pressure into wells drilled in shale formations to break up the rock and release gas and oil.        当地政府已经承诺修复受损的房屋。政府还未承认地震与水力压裂法之间有任何联系。水力压裂法指的是用高压将化学物质和沙子注入到页岩层中,把岩石压碎,将天然气和石油释放出来。
        “The relationship between earthquakes and local industrial exploitation cannot be determined,” the county government wrote on its website.        “目前尚不能确定此次地震的发生与工业开采有关,”荣县政府在其网站上写道。
        In China, as in other countries, the link remains the subject of debate.        在中国,与在其他国家一样,这种联系仍存在争议。
        Supporters of the technology claim there is no direct connection, though studies have shown otherwise. Fracking and related activity increases pressure underground, which can cause existing faults to slip.        虽然这项技术的支持者声称,水力压裂与地震之间不存在直接的联系,但已有研究显示它们之间有联系。水力压裂以及相关活动增加了地下的压力,这可能导致现有断层的滑动。
        Fracking has nonetheless vastly expanded the natural resources that can be recovered underground, making the technology irresistible to China, which is highly dependent on energy imports, as the United States once was.        然而,水力压裂法已极大地增加了地下可开采的自然资源,因此,对高度依赖能源进口的中国来说,这是一项极为诱人的技术。美国也曾高度依赖能源进口。
        China sits on top of the largest technically recoverable reserves of shale gas in the world, according to the United States Energy Information Administration, and the government has set ambitious goals for expanding production in the years ahead.        据美国能源情报署(United States Energy Information Administration)的数据,中国拥有全球最大的、可技术开采的页岩气储量。中国政府已为在未来几年里扩大开采制定了雄心勃勃的目标。
        There are many reasons. In addition to energy independence, the increased use of natural gas could help China meet its international commitments to reduce emissions that contribute to climate change. The transition to gas has already helped reduce pollution — at least in the northeast, where the authorities have phased out the use of coal to heat homes.        这样做有很多理由。除能源独立外,增加天然气的使用可以帮助中国履行其减少导致气候变化的碳排放的国际承诺。向天然气的过渡已经帮助减少了空气污染——至少在东北部地区,那里的政府已逐步停止使用煤炭为家庭供暖。
        China’s hopes to replicate the American fracking boom, however, have hit significant stumbling blocks. Shale deposits tend to be deeper here — 3.5 kilometers in Rong County, or more than two miles down. That makes them more expensive to tap. The process also requires a lot of water, which is scarce in some regions.        然而,中国渴望重复美国的水力压裂法开采热潮的做法遇到了重大障碍。中国的页岩矿藏往往比美国的要深——荣县的位于3.5公里的深度。这使得开采它们的成本更高。开采过程也需要大量的水,而有些地区缺少水。
        Perhaps most importantly, China is much more densely populated, and many of its best shale deposits are in crowded places. Those include Sichuan, which has a population of more than 80 million. Since reserves were discovered there in 2009, scores of fracking sites have appeared — with virtually no public input, given the authoritarian nature of the government.        也许最重要的是,中国的人口密度要高得多,许多最好的页岩矿床都位于人口密集的地区,包括人口超过8000万的四川省。自从2009年四川发现了页岩气储量以来,当地已经建设了数十个水力压裂平台,由于中国政府的专制性质,这些平台的建设几乎都没有听取公众的意见。
        The 15 platforms in Rong County have 39 separate wells being drilled or already in operation. They have appeared within a 10-kilometer circle around the county’s main town, surrounded by fencing and filled with trucks and equipment.        荣县的15个页岩气平台已有39口井开钻或已经投入生产。这些平台位于县城周围10公里的范围内,平台周围有围栏,里面到处都是卡车和设备。
        Because of the heavy equipment involved, the roads to the sites are rutted and, when it rains, nearly impassable because of mud. Long black tubes extend across once scenic valleys and terraced fields. As in other places, Rong County residents say they noticed an increase in tremors and quakes after production began.        运输建设所需的重型设备把通往平台的道路压得坑坑洼洼,下雨时,这些道路变得十分泥泞,几乎无法通行。长长的黑色管道跨越在曾经风景秀丽的山谷和梯田上。和其他地方的居民一样,荣县居民说,他们注意到,开采作业开始后,大小地震发生的次数有所增加。
        The latest appeared to inflame discontent that had long been simmering.        最近的地震似乎点燃了长期以来一直在酝酿的不满情绪。
        A video of the protest outside the government building was first published by Radio Free Asia. Local residents also voiced complaints on Weibo, a social media site like Twitter. “What on earth do you want from us?” one woman wrote. “Will you take the matter seriously only when there’s loss of life?”        自由亚洲电台(Radio Free Asia)首先发布了政府大楼外抗议活动的视频。当地居民也在微博上表达了不满。“你们究竟想从我们这里得到什么?”一位女士写道。“你们只是在死了人的时候才会认真对待这件事吗?”

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