The As Low As Reasonably Practicable (ALARP) principle was established in the Australian Dams
community in the ANCOLD Guidelines on Risk Assessment in 1994. Since that time, dam owners have been focused on reducing their societal risk to below the ANCOLD Limit of Tolerability (LoT) through dam safety upgrades and are now considering how to justify an ALARP position. This paper presents a framework that provides a systematic approach to assembling the inputs, applying a process and documenting the outcomes of an ALARP assessment. It is a pragmatic approach that aligns with the safety case, which is a legislated requirement for Major Hazard Facilities in Victoria.
The framework has been applied to two dams in Melbourne Water’s portfolio with differing societal risk, size, uses and criticality to the water supply system. It has highlighted the importance of dam safety governance, documentation of procedures, defensible technical analysis and an ongoing engagement with leading industry practice, in demonstrating risks are ALARP.
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Trustpower’s Mahinerangi Dam in New Zealand’s South Island is a concrete arch and gravity abutment dam built in 1931, subsequently raised in 1946 and strengthened with tie-down anchors in 1961.
This paper discusses a 3D finite element analysis of the dam and the predicted performance of the arch section under Safety Evaluation Earthquake (SEE) loading against identified potential failure modes.
Current guidelines and recent seismic hazard assessments recommend earthquake loadings higher than what was originally accounted for in previous decades. A Comprehensive Safety Review identified stability under SEE loading as a potential deficiency, so a programme of works was commenced to evaluate and better understand the seismic risk by using modern day tools and technology to evaluate the dam against current performance standards.
The final model incorporated the results of extensive laboratory testing, high-resolution LiDAR survey data and dynamic calibration using ambient-vibration monitoring. Motion recordings across the face of the dam during the 2016 Kaikōura earthquake were also used to validate the model. The reservoir has been explicitly modelled together with the opening, closing and sliding of contraction joints and the foundation interface. This allowed the modelling of permanent displacements and the redistribution of loads within the dam under SEE loading, which had been shown to be an important behaviour from the previous stages of analysis.
HEC-LifeSim modelling has been emerging in the industry over the last few years and is increasingly becoming the preferred method for detailed consequence and failure impact assessments. The increased adoption rate of HEC-LifeSim modelling is a result of advancements to computation power and hydraulic modelling techniques and allows dam owners to obtain more robust and consistent estimates of the potential loss of life (PLL) compared to the traditional Graham (1999) and RCEM (USBR, 2014) approaches.
This paper will demonstrate, through the use of three examples, how the inputs and outputs from HEC- LifeSim have been used to identify potential ways to better understand the consequences as a result of dambreak.
For hydropower dam projects, design and construction of the temporary works including cofferdams are very important. Improper selection, design and/or construction of temporary works may cause delay of major construction works and increase construction cost.
The authors worked on the preparation of the Engineering, procurement and construct EPC tender (based on International Federation of Consulting Engineers (FIDIC) contract-yellow book) for a 20 MW Hydro Power Plant (HPP) project in the Balkans Region. The scheme involved the design and construction of three cofferdams to enable construction of the main dam, intake and powerhouse. The basis for tendering, as a part the contract documents, was the preliminary design of the HPP scheme. The tenderers were allowed to deviate from the solutions presented in the preliminary design as long as the proposed solutions fulfilled the Employer’s Requirements.
As a part of a winning strategy, the preliminary design cofferdams were changed and modified, providing significant saving and facilitating quicker and safer construction. This paper presents the development of the design and challenges faced during construction work.
The paper describes the development of UK guidance on reservoir drawdown capacity. The guidance provides for a consistent thought process to be used in determining the recommended capacity. A basic recommended standard is proposed for embankment dams which varies with the consequences of failure of a dam. The drawdown rate for the highest consequence dams is 5% dam height/day with an upper limit of 1m/day. Engineering judgement is used to vary this standard allowing for ‘other considerations’ including the vulnerability to rapid dam failure, surveillance and precedent practice. A different approach is proposed for concrete/masonry dam, which considers the prime purpose of drawdown being to lower the reservoir in a reasonable timeframe to permit repairs rather than rapid lowering to avert failure. The UK approach is compared with that used in Australia and suggestions made for where its use may be appropriate.
The notion of probability and its various interpretations brings numerous opportunities for errors and misunderstandings. This is particularly true of contemporary risk analysis for dams that mostly consider geotechnical, hydraulic, and structural capacities subjected to extreme loads considered as independent evets. In these analyses subjective “degree of belief” probability has a major role, both in the modelling of the risk in the system by means of event trees based on inductive reasoning and in the assignment of probabilities to events in the event tree. There are numerous situations where physically possible conditions are eliminated from consideration in a risk analysis on the basis of probabilities that are judged to be too low to be of relevance. This is despite the fact that the assignment of a probability to a condition means that the occurrence of the event or condition is inevitable sometime, with the added complication that the time of occurrence is unknown and unknowable. Although there is no relationship between a remote probability and the possibility (or credibility) of the occurrence of the event in the event tree, it is quite common for physically feasible conditions to be either eliminated or their importance discounted on the basis of low probability in a risk assessment of a dam. Twenty five years ago, this elimination process might have been referred to as “judicious pruning of the event tree”. In more modern parlance, the elimination process is based on consideration of whether or not the condition or sequence of events is clearly so remote a possibility as to be non-credible or not reasonable to postulate. In contrast to the consideration of extreme loads vs. structural or geotechnical capacities, experience has shown that many dam failures and perhaps the majority of dam incidents do not result from extreme geophysical loads, but rather from operational factors. These incidents and failures occur because an unusual combination of reasonably common events occurs, and that unusual combination of events has a bad outcome. For example, a moderately high reservoir inflow occurs, but nowhere near extreme; the sensor and SCADA system fail to provide early warning for some unanticipated reason; one or more spillway gates are unavailable due to maintenance, or an operator makes an error, or there is no operator on site and it takes a long time for one to arrive; and the pool was uncommonly high at the time. This chain of reasonable events, none by itself particularly dangerous, can in combination lead to an incident or even a failure. This leads to the unnerving conclusions that; our estimates of risk made in terms of best available practice using the best available estimates will be underestimates of the actual risk, and the extent to which we underestimate the risk is unknowable. This paper examines why these improbable events occur and what can be done to prevent them. Some implications with respect to the endeavour of risk evaluation are also considered.