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
Paul Somerville, Andreas Skarlatoudis, and Hong Kie Thio
Engineers need ground motion time histories for the analysis of the response of structures to earthquake ground shaking. In current practice, these time histories are usually spectrally matched to a uniform hazard response spectrum. At low probabilities, this spectrum is too “broadband” (i.e. large over an unrealistically broad range of periods), and envelopes a set of more appropriate design response spectra, termed conditional mean spectra. These concepts are illustrated using a site-specific probabilistic seismic hazard analysis of ground shaking in which ground motion time histories are spectrally matched to conditional mean spectra that were derived from the uniform hazard spectrum.
Keywords: Ground motion time histories, Conditional mean spectrum.
This paper discusses the common environmental issues and requirements project lenders have when financing hydropower dam projects in developing countries. The environmental specialist’s role, as part of the Lender’s Technical Advisor team, is discussed throughout the main phases of project finance (credit approval, financial close, lending/construction and loan repayment/operation). Further, how environmental issues are reviewed and monitored, thereby minimising reputational risks to the lenders are outlined.
Lenders typically consider hydropower dam financing, especially reservoir schemes, as high reputational risk loans. Finance is usually syndicated and although most international lenders are Equator Principles signatories or use the International Financing Corporations (IFC) Performance Standards, some lenders have additional environmental guidelines and requirements to enable financing. These differences are discussed.
Common environmental concerns include loss of habitat of endangered and/or threatened species, changes to river flows, erosion and sediment control during construction, and the minimisation and disposal of project wastes.
These issues are discussed drawing on the author’s experience in monitoring environmental issues of hydropower projects in Asia Pacific and Africa, including both smaller run-of-river schemes and larger storage reservoir projects.
Keywords: Environment, impacts, project financing, concerns, lenders, lenders technical advisor.
Susantha Mediwaka, Nihal Vitharana, Badra Kamaladasa
Nalanda dam is the oldest concrete gravity dam on the Island built in the 1950s by the Ceylon Department of Irrigation. The dam was built in 9 monoliths having a dam crest length of approximately 125m and a maximum height of about 36m. The spillway consists of: (1) a low-level uncontrolled ogee-crested horse-shoe section with a crest length of 46m, and (b) a high-level broad crested weir with a crest length of 43m.
It was designed and constructed according to the then standard practices adopted throughout the world. Over the years, Nalanda dam has been showing signs of deterioration which is suspected to be Alkali-Aggregate Reaction (AAR). The dam was also shown to be deficient with respect to the stability levels required by modern standards. Under a program of dam safety improvement of the dams throughout Sri Lanka, it was decided to stabilise Nalanda dam as the first step in addressing a series of issues affecting the dam.
This paper presents the construction history, current issues, design assumptions and salient construction features in the upgrading of the dam to modern dam safety requirements.
Keywords: Concrete dams, dams Sri Lanka, concrete buttressing, upgrade, horse-shoe spillway
Maz Mahzari and Chi-Fai Wan
Upgrading of an existing dam often faces challenges in both static and seismic safety assessment. The use of new hydrological and seismological data and improved design methods often mean more severe loading which outdates the original design and demands expensive upgrade works. Establishing the design criteria for checking the structural adequacy of an existing dam for multiple unusual load events occurring within a relatively short time frame presents another challenge.
A probabilistic approach is presented to rigorously address the effects of multiple load events while maintaining a consistent risk of failure for the structure. This is based on a probabilistic conditional combination where probability of each event is defined and used to develop a joint probability distribution. For instance if an earthquake occurs following a severe flood, the seismic hazard curve of the site can be used to adjust the seismic loading with shorter average recurrence interval to be used in conjunction with the pre-earthquake flood when assessing the structural adequacy of the dam. With this method of adjustment, the design can benefit from the choice of a reduced seismic design loading and hence a more cost effective design solution.
The proposed method is straightforward and can be effectively used in most engineering practices, including the design of hydraulic structures such as dams.
Keywords: Dams, Seismic Hazard, Post-earthquake, Risk analysis
Jason Fowler, Robert Wark
Tropical Forestry Services (TFS) currently (2015) leases Arthur Creek Dam from the West Australian state government and utilises the water source to drip irrigate its Indian sandalwood (Santalum album) plantation. Arthur Creek Dam is located approximately 70 km south west of Kununurra in the East Kimberley region of Western Australia. TFS grows and processes the sandalwood to produce oil that is used extensively in the global fragrance perfume market. TFS took over the lease of the 26 m high zoned earth core and rock fill dam in 2007 and has systematically carried out remedial works to the structure to lower the f-N curve below the ANCOLD “Limit of Tolerability” and to well within the ALARP zone. This paper describes the proactive risk management approach TFS has undertaken to address dam safety issues. It also specifically describes the most recent management issue, being the outlet pipe refurbishment.
A number of dam safety issues were identified during the initial surveillance and subsequent annual surveillance inspections. Issues include insufficient spillway capacity, seepage from the right abutment and deterioration of the steel outlet pipe. The remedial works to the outlet pipe were completed in late 2014 and involved close collaboration between TFS, the contractor and the designer. The outlet pipe re-sleeving operation was complex as the dam had to remain in operation and the water level could not be artificially lowered. In addition, the original outlet pipe was asymmetrical along both the vertical and horizontal axes, close to the bulkhead gate structure. Contingency measures were employed to enable the dam to remain in operation with 3 DN 400 HDPE siphon pipes installed.
The completion of the refurbishment of the outlet pipe by sleeving the pipe reduced the risk posed by this structure by an order of magnitude. Planned future risk reduction measures include the treatment of seepage within the upper right abutment and rebuilding the crest. These actions will further reduce the risk of dam failure through piping and overtopping of the dam crest.
Keywords: risk, ALARP, outlet pipe, re-sleeving.