David Brett, Robert Longey, Jiri Herza
The independent expert review panel for the Mount Polley Tailings Storage Facility failure came out strongly recommending changes to the technology of tailings dams in British Columbia (and by inference, world-wide). The Panel had examined the historical risk profile of tailings dams in British Columbia and recommended, amongst other things, that best available technology (BAT) be adopted for tailings disposal. Examples of BAT, described by the panel, included “dry-stacking” of filtered, unsaturated, compacted tailings and reduction in the use of water covers in a closure setting. The recommended technologies would require a major shift in current practice and raises many questions, such as:
– Are these recommendations appropriate in Australia?
– Does this signal the end of the tailings dams as we know them?
– Do the current Australian National Committee on Large Dams Guidelines (ANCOLD) apply to these new BAT technologies?
– If not, is there a role for ANCOLD in setting standards for the future?
This paper discusses the Mt Polley tailings dam failure and searches for answers to these questions. In particular, this paper reviews the background to “dry-stacking’, to explore the implications for the Australian mining industry.
Keywords: Tailings Dam, Dry Stacking, Best Available Technology
R. Nathan, P. Jordan, M. Scorah, S. Lang, G. Kuczera, M. Schaefer, E. Weinmann
This paper describes the development and application of two largely independent methods to estimate the annual exceedance probability (AEP) of Probable Maximum Precipitation (PMP). One method is based on the Stochastic Storm Transposition (SST) approach, which combines the “arrival” and “transposition” probabilities of an extreme storm using the total probability theorem. The second method – termed “Stochastic Storm Regression”(SSR) – combines frequency curves of point rainfalls with regression estimates of areal rainfalls; the regression relationship is derived using local and transposed storms, and the final exceedance probabilities are derived using the total probability theorem. The methods are used to derive at-site estimates for two large catchments (with areas of 3550 km2 and 15280 km2) located in inland southern Australia. In addition, the SST approach is used to derive regional estimates for standardised catchments within the Inland GSAM region. Careful attention is given to the uncertainty and sensitivity of the estimates to underlying assumptions, and the results are compared to existing AR&R recommendations.
Keywords: Annual exceedance probability, Probable Maximum Precipitation.
This paper explores the role of the Lenders’ Technical Advisor (LTA) in identifying and mitigating risks in hydropower dam projects on behalf of the project lenders. It describes the LTA services that are required to manage the pre-financial close, construction and financing periods.
There are differing types of risk in both large and small hydropower projects (contractual, commercial, participant, completion, country, technology, reputational, environmental and social, etc.) and these are discussed with regard to how the lenders may be exposed if the risk eventuates either during dam construction or in operation.
Whereas a large dam for water supply would in its own right be a major project, the dam(s) associated with large hydropower will likely represent less than 25% of the total project cost and with this imbalance comes competing drivers for the other components (tunnels, waterways, powerhouse, M&E equipment, transmission lines, substations, etc).
The paper discusses the typical process whereby a hydropower developer has procured a feasibility study and is working towards financial close — covering both large and small types, i.e. storage dams and run-of-river diversion weir types, and the noticeable trend for fast-tracked developments to make a single large step from feasibility study through to engineer-procure-construct (EPC) contracting. This scenario presents some challenges for the initial due diligence when assessing in the pre-financial close stage.
The paper draws on case studies from the Asia Pacific region to illustrate the key elements in hydropower project financing from the LTA’s perspective, together with the author’s recent and current experience on multiple hydropower projects across Asia and Africa in the run-of-river, storage reservoir and pumped storage type of plants. It also brings together findings from the author’s own recent papers on the subjects of hydropower feasibility studies, the roles of lenders, owners and advisors, and tailored for an ANCOLD audience where the focus is on the dams component of hydropower.
Keywords: Lenders’ Technical Advisor, Dams, Hydropower.
J.H. Green; C. Beesley; C. The and S. Podger
Rare design rainfalls for probabilities less frequent than 1% Annual Exceedance Probability (AEP) are an essential part of spillway adequacy assessment as they enable more accurate definition of the design rainfall and flood frequency curves between the 1% AEP and Probable Maximum events.
Estimates for rare design rainfalls were previously derived using the CRC-FORGE method which was developed in the 1990s. However, as the method was applied on a state-by-state basis, there are variations in the approach adopted for each region. Differences in the cut-off period for data, the amount of quality controlling of the data undertaken, the base used for the 2% AEP estimates, gridding settings and smoothing processes have created inconsistencies which are particularly apparent in overlapping state border areas.
The Bureau of Meteorology has derived new rare design rainfalls for the whole of Australia using the extensive, quality-controlled rainfall database established for the new Intensity-Frequency-Duration (IFD) design rainfalls. These data have been analysed using a regional LH-moments approach which is more consistent with the method used to derive the new IFDs and which overcomes the limitations of the spatial dependence model in the CRC-FORGE method. In particular, the selection and verification of homogenous regions and the identification of the most appropriate regional probability distribution to adopt relied heavily on the outcomes of the testing of methods undertaken for the new IFDs. However, to focus the analysis on the rarer rainfall events, only the largest events have been used to define the LH-moments.
Keywords: Rare design rainfalls; Intensity-Frequency-Duration (IFD); Annual Exceedance Probability
Chriselyn Meneses, Simon Lang, Peter Hill, Mark Arnold
Risk is the product of likelihood and consequences. Much effort is put into the risk assessment process for large dams to ensure there is a consistent approach to estimating failure likelihoods across an owner’s portfolio. For example, the use of common peer review teams and methods like the ‘piping toolbox’ allow the risk assessment team to apply repeatable logic and processes when estimating failure likelihoods. However, the methods for estimating life safety consequences are often not applied consistently. This inconsistency leads to estimates of potential loss of life (PLL) that vary between dams in unexpected ways, because results from the most commonly applied method (Graham, 1999) are sensitive to threshold changes in flood severity and dam failure warning time.
The recently released Reclamation Consequence Estimating Methodology (RCEM) is intended to supersede Graham (1999). RCEM varies fatality rates continuously with DV, and is therefore less sensitive to changes in flood severity. In this paper, estimates of PLL from RCEM are compared with results from Graham (1999) for five dams. Results from the latest US Army Corps of Engineers model for estimating the consequences of dam failure (HEC-FIA 3.0) are also compared with RCEM and Graham (1999) for one dam. Comment is then made about the important considerations for applying RCEM consistently across a portfolio of dams.
Keywords: potential loss of life, dam safety, risk analysis
Steven E Pells, Philip J N Pells, William L. Peirson; Kurt Douglas and Robin Fell
The method of Annandale (1995) is widely used by Australian practitioners for the assessment of erosion in unlined spillways. This method is based on comparison to various case studies, where the geology at each site is characterised using the Kirsten index (a rock mass index previously developed to assess the rippability of rock), and the hydraulic conditions are characterised using the unit stream power dissipation. In this paper, the historical development of this comparative design technique is traced and is critically reviewed against the original geotechnical and hydraulic data, and against a new, independent, dataset gained from unlined spillways in fractured rock in Australia, South Africa and the USA. It is shown that, while erosion can be usefully correlated against rock-mass indices and hydraulic indices, this ‘comparative’ design technique has been promoted beyond its reach – the data do not support the inference of an erosion ‘threshold’ as presented by Annandale (1995). It is argued that this type of analysis should be used only as an initial ‘first indication of erosion potential’, as originally proposed by van Schalkwyk (1994b).
Keywords: scour; erosion; spillways.