Loss of life estimates in dam breach circumstances are a key determining input in establishing the appropriate risk profile for these assets. They can also be useful in identifying the most effective emergency management responses. While there are a range of approaches described in the literature for assessing loss of life for concentrated population centres, there is little specific guidance on approaches to be taken when there is only a small number of properties or where itinerant loss of life has the potential to be the dominant risk element. Itinerants are most commonly considered to be road users, although, they can alternatively be any temporary users of the floodplain. The literature on flood fatalities indicates that the largest number of deaths occurs at vehicle crossings or otherwise when individuals voluntarily enter waterways. An approach has been developed for identifying the cases where itinerant loss of life has the potential to be the dominant vector for flood fatalities. In addition, the available flood fatality literature and associated databases have been reviewed to establish the precursors to fatalities.
A simple stepped procedure is presented which allows the user to identify cases where itinerant risk to life on roads should be considered with a separate procedure and a method presented by which itinerant life loss may be identified.
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International emergency agencies such as the Federal Emergency Management Authority (FEMA) in the U.S. highlight a lack of public awareness of hazards relating to dams (FEMA, 2012). This is an issue faced by emergency management agencies around the world, including in Australia and New Zealand. Without hazard awareness, communities who live downstream of large dams are potentially more vulnerable to possible risks, and are likely to be less resilient when hazards arise. One way to address this knowledge gap is risk communication or the meaningful and purposeful exchange of information about risk among relevant parties (Covello, von Winterfeldt, & Slovic, 1984).
This study adopted a mental models approach (see Lazrus et al., 2016) to identify community members’ knowledge of dam failure by comparing their views with those of experts. Data were collected via depth interviews with dam safety experts (n=5) from across Australia, and community members (n=26) living downstream of dams in South East Queensland in Australia. Participants were asked to discuss knowledge about dam failure and to evaluate a dam safety message taken from a U.S. dam authority that was verbally read to them. Interviews were transcribed and analysed to identify the gaps between expert and community member knowledge.
Analysis showed some convergence on general dam operations but, less comprehensive community understanding of the causes of dam failure and dam safety management. Response to the U.S. dam safety message was mixed, with some participants believing it delivered the message appropriately, and others feeling it overstated risk or that its intended use was primarily to protect dam operators. Notably, these varied responses were often related to participants’ level of knowledge of dams. Combined, the findings highlight an opportunity to close the gap in knowledge. These findings will inform the strategies and materials for the South East Queensland bulk water authority Seqwater in engaging with communities downstream of their 26 dams. The research will guide the approach in conveying knowledge with an appropriate tone to support ongoing community engagement activities and increase resilience.
The use of simulation models to assess dam failure consequences has progressively advanced in Australia over the past few years. For example, it is now common for HEC-LifeSim to be used to estimate potential loss of life from the failure of large dams with large populations at risk downstream. Since its introduction to Australia, numerous presentations and papers have been provided by USACE and industry professionals that highlight the benefits of using HEC-LifeSim for a range of different case studies.
Whilst the majority of the literature published to date have focused on the benefits of simulation modelling, this paper identifies some of the technical challenges that can arise, particularly in the evacuation modelling component of HEC-LifeSim. The techniques that have been used to overcome these challenges are also discussed using three case studies.
The first case study demonstrates the sensitivity of the life loss to changes in cell size and the output interval of the gridded hydraulic data. This is done by comparing the differences in life loss between high-resolution and low-resolution models for three dambreak models. The second case study illustrates the importance of the road network representation in HEC-LifeSim because the resolution of the road network is important to achieve plausible estimates of the fatalities along roads, and logical animations of the mobilisation. The final case study demonstrates the implications of coincident flow modelling on the life loss, and therefore the importance of understanding the hydrology of the target and neighbouring catchments.
This paper provides a checklist that prompts practitioners to consider some of the lessons learnt over the last few years and is envisaged to be a working document that improves the defensibility and robustness of HEC-LifeSim estimates throughout the industry.
Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) is the science of predicting momentum, mass and heat transport, and can aid in design and safety issues for dam resilience in modern settings. Applications of CFD have historically been in the aerospace, automotive and chemical process industries with limited application in the hydraulic engineering field; possibly due to the associated computational intensity that is typically required. However, over the past two decades the cost of computing power has decreased substantially while the processing speed has increased exponentially. These developments have now made the application of CFD in the commercial environment feasible. CFD is particularly valuable in complex flow situations where the outputs required cannot be provided by a traditional hydraulic assessment approach and where there are stakeholder drivers such as service life, insurance cover and safety implications of infrastructure. The need for CFD when these drivers and complex flow situations arise, are demonstrated by means of a case study.
In the case study, CFD was used to investigate the flow patterns and the predicted performance of the outlet pipework from Massingir Dam in Mozambique. Three flow scenarios with appropriate pressure and flow boundary conditions were analysed for the outlet pipework, which included bifurcations for power generation from the main discharge conduits. Specific concerns addressed were, firstly, the possible excessive negative pressure in the region of the offtake for power generation and the potential for cavitation effects and, secondly, unacceptable velocity gradients in the power offtake pipework. Results showed that although some negative pressures were possible in one flow scenario, mitigation measures based on the CFD outputs could be considered and designed before construction.
The implementation of CFD in the above case study displays how risk in design can be reduced to ensure safety issues are addressed effectively.
Identification of people impacted by a hypothetical dam-break flood is required to understand the potential hazard a dam poses to downstream communities. The New Zealand Dam Safety Guidelines and the Australian Consequence Categories for Dams define these people collectively as the “Population at Risk” (PAR) and recommend that evaluation of PAR should include both permanent and temporary populations. However, there is limited guidance on specific methods to determine these populations. This paper provides an outline of an evidence-based, repeatable method to determine the PAR (both permanent and temporary) within a dam-break flood inundation zone. The method is intended to provide guidance for people tasked with estimating PAR in accordance with the New Zealand Dam Safety Guidelines. The methodology provides a current practice framework for users to apply and estimate the PAR in a clear and defendable manner.
As predicted by Powel (2000) claims for professional negligence are very common and their frequency is increasing due to the increasing demand for professionals’ services, specialisation, higher standards, intolerance of poor performance by societies and the increasing litigious nature of business.
The increasing expectations of the society are reflected in the changing attitude of the authorities and courts towards professionals when things go wrong. The changing attitude is fuelled by the unprecedented media coverage of failures of structures with human and environmental losses. This is particularly relevant to the tailings industry, which is marked by the recent dam failures in Canada, Brazil, Mexico, China, Australia and India.
The far reaching expectations for duty of care of professionals has been strikingly illustrated from the fallouts from recent major and widely publicised TSF failures such as Mt Polley (three consultant engineers accused of unprofessional conduct), the 2015 Samarco failure (22 individuals charged with various criminal offences including homicide) and the recent Brumadinho failure (charges of false representation have also been brought against the consultant engineers).
This paper examines the responsibilities and duties of engineers operating in the tailings industry with respect to the professionals’ duty of care and the consequences of breaching those responsibilities and duties. This paper also discusses the potential conflicting interests of consulting engineers and proposes that engineers are, in the vast majority, ill-prepared for navigating the changing waters of professional negligence.
The authors of this paper believe that a better understanding of the professional duty of care could reduce the number of claims for professional negligence. As a corollary, the reduced rate of professional negligence could result into fewer tailings failures in the future.
Professional industry bodies such as Engineers Australia should act to clarify the legal obligations and duties of engineers, as they are the best placed institutions to do so for the whole industry. In addition, consideration should be given to inclusion of a discussion of the aforementioned obligations and duties into relevant ANCOLD Guidelines.