2006 – ALARP Considerations for Dam Safety – Are We There Yet?

Peter Allen, Malcolm Barker, Shane McGrath and Chris Topham

Are we there Yet? The question we all ask in Tolerability of Risk. The answer is in the journey, which we are all on as owners, regulators or designers.

A number of authorities in Australia are applying risk assessment for the evaluation of dam safety upgrades in accordance with the October 2003 ANCOLD Guidelines on Risk Assessment. A fundamental requirement for the evaluation of risk below the limit of tolerability is the use of the As Low As Reasonably Practicable(ALARP) principle. In making a judgement as to whether an ALARP position may have been reached, ANCOLD suggest the evaluation of a Cost to Save a Statistical Life, good practice, level of existing risk, social concerns, affordability and duration of risk. ANCOLD also suggests consideration of the USBR Criteria for evaluating risk. Recent guidelines on the Acceptable Flood Capacity for Dams developed by the Queensland Dam Safety Regulator provide further insight into the application of ALARP.

The objective of the paper is to make dam owners, regulators and designers aware of some current practice regarding the evaluation of ALARP in Australia, highlight the challenges of applying this principle and to encourage further discussion.

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