Russell Mills PhD,Rebecca Freeman, Malcolm Barker
The global mining industry lives with the risk of catastrophic events such as water storage or tailings dam failures as part of its daily operations, and has developed a number of approaches to enable mine management to understand the nature of the risks and the ways in which they are being managed. One such approach involves the use of bowties for the understanding of the hazards and risks. Building from bowties, the second approach involves the selection and management of controls critical to the prevention or mitigation of the catastrophic event. The Australian mining industry is a world leader in this regard and the purpose of this paper is to illustrate how bowties are constructed, how risks can be semi-quantitatively estimated, how critical controls are selected and managed, and how, if all this is done well, risks can be demonstrated to be as low as reasonably practicable (ALARP).
This paper sets out key themes and presents an example for a tailings dam failure to illustrate the role of bowties and critical controls in management of catastrophic events. It will also highlight the role of bowties in the anticipated introduction of a Safety Case approach to dam risk management. Bowties provide a useful tool for the transfer of risk management knowledge from the designer, to allow dam owner / operators to better understand their risks and to recognise the link between design and operational controls and how they are used to manage those risks to ALARP.
Susan Ryanand Siraj Perera
This paper describes the benefits of the statewide risk reporting framework used in dam safety regulation in Victoria and its ongoing development. Key to this approach is a web-hosted reporting system and benchmarking process, established by the Department of Sustainability and Environment in collaboration with the Victorian water industry. This is the first time that such an approach has been used in Australia for publicly owned dams.
Sector-wide reporting on dam safety is central to the objective-based approach used by the Department in the governance and regulation of the water industry. Water corporations submit detailed annual reports on dam safety status. This incorporates ‘self assessment’ against performance criteria based on ANCOLD risk and dam safety management guidelines. These are collated to produce a statewide report of industry-wide results on the progress of dam safety management programs. This benchmarking process is providing a driver for on-going improvement and proving to be an effective tool for regulation of publicly owned dams.
The reporting framework has significantly advanced the understanding of dam safety risk across the water sector, with outputs easily understood by both dam safety practitioners and decision makers. It has improved monitoring and trend analysis of risk management practices, and is informing policy development on demonstration of the ALARP principle and decision-making about appropriate long-term dam safety levels.
Monique de Moel, Mark Arnold, Gamini Adikari
Monbulk Saddle Dam, built in 1929, is one of two saddle dams located at the southern end of Silvan Reservoir, near the township of Monbulk, Victoria. The saddle dam is a 5.3m high earthfill embankment with a 230mm wide, centrally located, concrete core wall. The reservoir retained is located in the valley of Stonyford Creek, and impounds approximately 40,500 ML of water at FSL.
Excessive seepage at the right abutment of Monbulk Saddle Dam has been an issue since the early 1970’s. The reservoir has been operating with a level restriction since then to reduce the seepage flows. However; this restriction limits the operational flexibility of the storage. Early investigations concluded that the most likely mechanism for these excessive seepage flows was a defect in the concrete core wall.
Melbourne Water Corporation, (the owner and the operator of the reservoir), undertook a risk assessment for Silvan Reservoir as part of a review of its dams asset portfolio. Based on the information then available, the risk assessment was undertaken using the criteria and guidelines developed by ANCOLD. The result was that the piping risks associated with the seepage from the west abutment at Monbulk Saddle Dam was unacceptable. The risk assessment Panel also cast doubt on the likelihood of the seepage being caused by a defect in the concrete core wall. Melbourne Water therefore engaged SMEC Australia to investigate the likely causes and mechanisms for this seepage and to develop suitable remedial measures for the dam.
The investigations have included a desktop review of historical information, test pit investigations, Sonic borehole drilling, dynamic cone penetration tests, an infrared thermal imaging investigation and an electromagnetic groundwater seepage flow mapping investigation.
These investigations have shown that the most likely cause of the seepage is the presence of permeable foundation layers located beneath and around the existing core wall as the core wall does not extend over the full length of the embankment and becomes shallower towards the abutments.
To satisfy the ALARP principle; risk reduction remedial works Concept Designs are being developed and reviewed.
2011 – Investigating the Piping Risk Associated with Seepage at Monbulk Saddle Dam of Silvan Reservoir, Victoria
Robert Keogh RPEQ, CE Civil (Hon), Mal Halwala, Peter Boettcher, Renee Butterfield
SunWater is a Government Owned Corporation (GOC), operating in a competitive market on an equal commercial footing with the private sector. SunWater owns 23 referable dams. Over the last fifty years there has been significant development of the methodologies used to estimate extreme rainfall events. These have resulted in substantial increases in probable maximum flood (PMF) estimates for most of SunWater’s dams.
SunWater has undertaken a Comprehensive Risk Assessment program across its portfolio. SunWater now has a good understanding of the deficiencies and available risk reduction options for each dam under all load conditions. The total cost to rectify all deficiencies is several hundred million dollars and well beyond the financial capacity of the organisation in the short term.
ANCOLD and Regulators have different published opinions on decision making criteria for dam safety upgrades. Once the conditions for the tolerability of Societal and Individual Risk are satisfied the onus remains with the dam owner to meet the ALARP principle. The decision making process is complicated by uncertainties in inputs to risk assessments. The authors have considered these uncertainties as well as the legal implications, differing ANCOLD and Regulator requirements, and business and economic loss, in formulating the decision making process. The methodology is simplified but effective. If the process is followed the dam owner’s investments will meet ANCOLD, Regulatory, legal and business requirements.
This Paper details a logical decision making process designed to allow a non technical Board to balance social, legal and financial objectives. The process considers overall risk, tolerability, the ALARP principle, and project prioritisation. The process is being used by SunWater to determine the Acceptable Flood Capacity of each dam, which dams will be upgraded, priorities and scheduling of each upgrade.
How SunWater, as a commercial dam owner makes investment decisions for dam safety upgrades
Craig Messer, Francisco Lopez, and Manoj Laxman
The Enlarged Cotter Dam is a new 80m high Roller Compacted Concrete Dam being constructed to augment the water supply for the Canberra region. Due to the size of the main dam and the extreme climatic variations in the ACT, where temperatures range from sub zero in winter to in excess of forty degrees in summer, it is expected that significant stresses will be generated during the cooling of the structure. For this reason it is essential that an understanding of the magnitude of these stresses is developed through the initial strength development period and at critical periods such as the first and second winter when the temperature differential between ambient conditions and the core of the structure may be greatest. The development of thermal stress within the structure has critical impacts on both the RCC mix design and the dam construction equipment and methodology.
For the Enlarged Cotter Dam, thermal stresses were investigated using both two and three dimensional finite element transient heat transfer analyses, making use of the thermal properties derived from laboratory testing including instrumented thermal blocks, as well as established literature. Modelling of the thermal stresses in the dam required the development of time dependent concrete properties, such as strength, stiffness and heat generation, with the latter based on test results and calibrated to actual measured values. Additionally, site dependent conditions for ambient temperature, external conduction, convection and radiation factors, dam foundation temperatures and restraint, dam construction sequence, formwork, joint spacing, insulation and timing of reservoir filling were also modelled.
Initial thermal modelling of the dam demonstrated that significant tensile stresses and potential cracking could develop within the structure, at both early and mature concrete ages. Subsequent analyses were developed to investigate methods of reducing these stresses to within acceptable limits. This paper presents the results of the thermal analyses, including the methods to be employed during and after construction to minimise cracking without impacting construction costs and even optimising the speed of construction.
Finite Element Transient Thermal Analysis of the Enlarged Cotter Dam