Mark Arnold, Chris Topham, Phil Cummins
A central tenet of the ANCOLD Guidelines on Dam Safety Management (2003) is that the higher the consequence of failure of a dam, the more stringent the surveillance scope, frequency, and safety criteria that should be applied to that dam. This concept has generally served the industry well to date in assisting regulators and dam owners to focus on the dams that could have the highest impacts if they failed. ANCOLD 2003 does also suggest that risk may be taken into consideration, however it is the experience of the authors that for dam surveillance and monitoring programmes, the majority of owners and consultants are reluctant to stray too far from the tables provided in the Guideline. However, two owners have recently embarked on a formal process to apply a risk based approach to the specification of surveillance and monitoring for their dams. This paper outlines how sub-optimal outcomes that can arise when the guideline tables are applied exclusively, presents the process undertaken by two owners of large portfolios of high consequence dams, and demonstrates the benefits achieved when a risk based approach is used. The paper concludes that any update or rewrite of the 2003 Dam Safety Management Guidelines should promote a risk based, rather than a consequence based approach to surveillance and monitoring.
Keywords: Risk, risk-based surveillance programme, instrumentation, monitoring.
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.
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
Since their development, rock mass classification systems have used and manipulated various populations of geomechanical data to allow a rock mass to be divided into different domains or engineering ‘masses’ with the aim of assisting in the geotechnical design of underground openings, excavations, foundations and ground support systems.
Each of these methods consider different characteristics to generate a material classification; including rock strength, joint weathering, defect spacing, in-situ stress and groundwater. However, none of these systems cater for classification of the rock mass based on whole rock weathering, whole rock strength and incipient defect spacing along a borehole.
This new classification system, the Rock Condition Number (RCN), has been developed to reduce the human factor of variability in interpretation when collecting data to classify the rock mass, as other methods, such as Rock Quality Designation (RQD), are prone to significant variability based on the experience of the person logging the core. RQD provides an indication of rock quality over the length of the cored interval, which varies depending on the drilling equipment and ground conditions. This value may typically be calculated over an interval of 1.0, 1.5 or 3.0 metres. The RQD system does not allow for the rapid identification of thin, though important features in the subsurface.
Using data captured electronically in the field, the RCN calculates an instantaneous classification of the rock mass at any point along the borehole, highlighting variations within the rock mass by assessing a combination of characteristics, allowing rapid identification of potential hazardous zones within the rock mass. This allows for significant improvements in efficiency during the assessment and design process/es. Resolution is greatly improved over RQD, with thin, though important, zones of weak material highlighted using this new process.
Comparison between existing classifications and the RCN using real field data indicates the RCN provides greater resolution when identifying deficient zones within the rock mass.
Keywords: Rock mass characterisation, RQD, Rock Condition Number, rock quality, dam foundations.
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
Bronson L McPherson, Eric J Lesleighter, David C Scriven, Erik F R Bollaert
A number of medium to major floods in Queensland caused substantial scour around spillway structures. This included the Paradise Dam primary spillway which experienced significant scour of the rock body below the spillway during flooding in January 2013. The occurrence has led to a series of evaluations of the geology, and the prevailing hydraulics behaviour as part of a process to determine the scour mechanism, and to determine the response of the spillway and areas downstream to future floods of larger magnitude. Part of the process has been to utilise a large-scale physical model to obtain transient data which together with the detailed geologic assessment would be incorporated into the comprehensive scour modelling procedures developed by Dr Erik Bollaert, AquaVision Engineering, Switzerland.
The paper will describe the design and construction of the physical model with special features to obtain pressure transients from more than 60 transducers, and velocity transients in more than 40 locations using Acoustic Doppler Velocimeter (ADV) instrumentation. The features of the rock scour will be discussed and the geology of the area below the spillway apron will be described. The range of discharges, and the model’s results including the pressure and velocity characteristics will be described in detail to illustrate the violent nature of the turbulence in the energy dissipation zone. The paper will go on to describe the computational scour modelling procedures of calibration and application, demonstrating a “system” approach to spillway scour analysis for plunge pools and similar situations with energy dissipation on natural materials.
Keywords: Spillways, flood hydraulics, hydraulic modelling, rock scour, transients, numerical analysis, energy dissipation.