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.
Rod Westmore, Andrew George& Robert Wilson
A 2007 risk assessment of Hume Dam concluded that the dam did not satisfy the ANCOLD societal risk criteria for existing dams. The Spillway Southern Junction (SSJ) and its associated failure modes was one of the main contributors to the risk profile.
Upgrade works at the SSJ involved the retro-installation of additional filter and drainage materials in the 40m high embankment immediately downstream of the tower block and central core wall by installation of more than 10,000m of secant caisson drilled columns backfilled with filter and/or drainage materials.
This paper describes the design and construction issues associated with the upgrade works, the equipment and methodologies developed to achieve the principal design objectives of coverage and connectivity of filter and drainage columns, and optimisation of compaction of the backfill materials. It also describes how these requirements were met whilst minimising adverse affects such as vertical deviation, excessive vibration, subsidence of secant filter columns during construction, and clay smearing of the perimeter of individual columns.
Hume Dam Spillway Southern Junction Filter and Drainage Works
Bob Wark, Louise Thomas, Andrew Peek
Alkali Silica Reaction (ASR) has been by far the dominant cause identified in the deterioration of concrete caused by expansion of the pastes from an interaction with the aggregates. However the path to the identification of the presence of the deleterious effects of ASR is not always straightforward. In a recent example, the concrete spillway slabs and walls at South Dandalup Dam exhibited classic craze cracking symptoms of ASR. However when subjected to more detailed analysis the driving process was found to be delayed ettringite formation (DEF).
ASR and DEF are chemically different concrete deterioration mechanisms with physically similar manifestation, causing slow concrete expansion in the presence of moisture. ASR has been reported mostly in concrete structures constructed prior to the early 90’s when the DEF deterioration mechanism was not fully recognised. However it is possible that ASR and DEF can take place simultaneously and more extensive damage due to DEF could have occurred and remain undetected.
The paper will also describe a recent case using basalt aggregate for Stirling Dam in which the use of an accelerated mortar bar test gave an extreme reaction but the ASTM concrete prism expansion test gave a negative result. Further detailed petrographic examination provided the clues to the real cause.
The paper will describe the occurrence of the problems, compare the causes and outline the methods undertaken to investigate the issues. Alternative concrete mix designs, incorporating a high flyash content to replace ordinary Portland cement as the main pozzolanic material, have been investigated and successfully implemented. This paper describes the investigations undertaken to develop these alternate mixes, the resultant properties of the concrete and its resistance to deterioration.
2011 – Searching for Solutions to ASR
G. Hadzilacos, ML. Ng, K. Taske, A. Small and B. Loney
Alteration of flow patterns by constructing a dam may have an irreversible impact on ecosystems depending on the timing, duration and frequency of these flows. As part of an Environmental Impact Study, carried out for a proposed mining operation in Australia that included an earth dam on a pristine ephemeral creek, an appropriate waterway management scheme was proposed that required the establishment of measurable instream flow requirements. This paper describes an environmental flow analysis (EFA) carried out to identify flow regimes that achieve the desired ecological outcomes for the affected waterways. The EFA methodology was based on the range-of-variability approach using a calibrated rainfall-runoff model to form the hydrologic basis. The study established a relationship between flow components and ecological variables based upon which the flow requirements were estimated using a simple methodology.
2011 – A case study of an initial Environmental Flows Assessment for an earth dam on a pristine stream in Cape York
B. Ghahreman Nejad, H. Taiebat, M. Dillon and K. Seddon
One of the causes of tailings dam failure has been seismically induced liquefaction during earthquakes. Liquefaction, if mobilised, significantly reduces the stiffness and strength of affected soils in the embankment dam or its foundation and may lead to large deformations and dam failure. This paper reports the results of seismic liquefaction assessment and deformation analyses of Bobadil tailings dam located in Tasmania. The tailings dam consists of a perimeter rockfill starter dam which has been raised in stages using the “upstream” construction method. The embankment raises (formed by clay or coarse tailings) are constructed over a foundation of previously deposited tailings in the impoundment which is potentially susceptible to liquefaction. Extensive field and laboratory tests were carried out to assess the tailings liquefaction potential and also to determine the material properties required for seismic stability and deformation analyses. Numerical modelling of seismic liquefaction and deformation analyses were carried out to predict the magnitude and pattern of deformations that may lead to uncontrolled release of tailings. The results of these analyses are presented and compared with literature report of those observed during past earthquakes.
2011 – Numerical Modelling of Seismic Liquefaction for Bobadil Tailings Dam