Chris Nielsen, Ron Guppy, Donna Dunn, David Murray
Following several years of investigations and analysis a serious safety issue with the stability of the primary spillway during major flood events was identified at Paradise Dam that required urgent risk reduction works. The response to this safety issue was significant.
The Inspector General Emergency Management conducted a review into the effectiveness of emergency response if a dam safety event were to occur, taking into consideration process and communications to manage around 40,000 population at risk, comprised mostly of residents within the city of Bundaberg.
An essential works program to reduce the risk was urgently prepared then executed effectively within a calendar year. This short timeframe required significant and novel amendments to Queensland’s laws to bypass normal legislated process for such a major project.
The Paradise Dam Commission of Inquiry was established to identify the root cause of the issues, the facts and circumstances that contributed to them and recommendations to consider for future dam projects. All recommendations from the commission were accepted by the Queensland government and, following an extensive stakeholder engagement exercise, have been implemented through changes in policy and methodology and described in published guideline revisions.
For future dam projects the lessons learnt highlighted the need for early and ongoing engagement of
independent technical review, project governance that is cognisant of risk and the ownership and capacity to bear of that risk, the need to consider testing to confirm critical design parameters and the need for an effective regulator. The essential works program has established a precedent for the timely and appropriate application of risk reduction measures.
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T. I. Mote, N. Vitharana, L. Johnstone, and K. Illangakoon
In Australia, the consideration of faults in seismic design has been captured in recent ANCOLD Guidelines for Design of Dams and Appurtenant Structures for Earthquake. The Guidelines recommend proper characterisation of geologic setting, foundation conditions, seismotectonic setting, and identification of both active and neotectonic faults as input to the seismic design basis for dams in Australia.
A case-study is presented at the proposed Cultana Pumped Hydro Energy Storage Project in South
Australia, summarising a fault assessment in concert with reference design. The progressive assessment of a lineament to a possible active fault to ultimately a non-seismogenic fault, allowed insights in understanding active fault rupture risk and active fault implications as it pertains to siting a dam in Australia. It highlighted the need for proper characterisation of geologic setting and faults based on targeted geotechnical investigations and the challenges in phasing these with an aggressive design program. These insights are relevant to many other projects in Australia either in existence or being planned for construction.
Anna Hams, Lindsay Millard, Elizabeth Jackson, Zara Bostock, Helena Sutherland
The Queensland dam regulator requires that dam safety risk during construction must not increase from its existing profile. The Stage 2A upgrade of Ewen Maddock Dam required excavation of its homogeneous embankment to retrofit chimney and filter blankets, and also the construction of a concrete parapet wall. Due to the constraints of the embankment profile and a constricted site, it was necessary to excavate the downstream face of the embankment. This excavation increased the risk of embankment failure due to overtopping, piping and instability. This paper discusses the measures taken to manage those dam safety risks, and includes:
● use of a temporary system consisting of six large siphons to regulate the lake level to a Restricted Full Supply Level (Restricted FSL). This encompassed the optimisation of lake level and capacity of siphons required to balance competing risks; dam safety, environmental, community and water security. This optimisation was based on a probabilistic assessment of hydrological inflows and lake levels, the development of a flow management plan;
● implementation of a Dam Safety Management Plan which outlined the roles and responsibilities for
managing dam safety during construction at each pre-determined lake level trigger levels. This includes how the contractor was involved to ensure quick response from the “eyes and ears on the ground”; and,
● development of recommended construction methodologies including a “rolling front” and placing
filters vertically to increase production, maintain quality and limit the extent of embankment excavation underway.
Ryan Singh, Jiri Herza, James Thorp, Michael Ashley
Performance-based risk-informed decision making is an underlying principle of the Global Industry
Standard on Tailings Management (GISTM). While owners make significant efforts to align with this
principle, commonly used risk assessment and management practices in the mining industry have largely been based on the HSE principles, which consider more frequent, lower consequence incidents.
As a result, the existing risk assessment frameworks do not provide the owners with a comprehensive understanding of the risk profiles of their tailings storage facilities (TSFs). Without the understanding of a facility’s risk profile, the owners cannot appreciate how changes to their facility, processes and operational activities may impact the risk profile. A large step-change in thinking is therefore required in risk assessment practices for the owner to align their TSF management with GISTM requirements.
Beyond risk assessments, the mining industry has other valuable concepts to manage the safety of their tailings management practices, such as Critical Controls, however, commonly used risk assessment and management practices do not incorporate these concepts.
This paper explores commonly used risk assessment practices and the concepts of Critical Controls. It proposes how these concepts can be linked, with Critical Controls being embedded in the risk assessment process. The outcomes of linking these concepts result in an estimation of the effectiveness of the Critical Controls and how they can be improved to demonstrably reduce the risk presented by a TSF. A case study has been included to demonstrate the benefits of linking risk assessment with Critical Controls and how owners can readily identify deficiencies and efficiently manage the risk profiles of their facilities.
Hench Wang, Edward Funnell, Albert Shen, Matt Scorah, Peter Hill
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 Version 1.0.1 for a range of different case studies.
This paper identifies some of the new features in the latest version of HEC-LifeSim that can improve the robustness and defensibility of the potential loss of life estimates for dambreak consequence assessments. The techniques that have been used to overcome these challenges are also discussed using some case studies.
The first case study demonstrates the sensitivity of the model performance and potential loss of life to changes in version and number of iterations used to simulate the life loss. This is done by comparing the differences in simulation run time and life loss between the previous and new versions of HEC-LifeSim for an example model. The second case study presents an example application of both versions of HEC-LifeSim to compare the results between one version and the other for a different dam and the final case study illustrates an improved method for interrogating the available outputs from HEC-LifeSim to provide the user with more information that otherwise could not be obtained from the default outputs.
Christopher Dann, Chad Martin, Garry Fyfe, Nigel Rutherford
This paper presents a case study on remedial works that were undertaken at Lock and Weir One
along the River Murray, that to our knowledge are the first of their kind in Australia.
The weir structure’s left abutment is comprised of a stepped concrete structure founded on timber
piles, with timber sheet piles extending beneath the structure to cut off seepage through underlying
alluvium. A piping incident occurred at the left abutment in late 2014 and a filter blanket was
installed as an emergency response measure. A detailed review of historic construction documents
showed that there was a “missing” timber sheet pile upstream of the piping boil. Geotechnical
investigations, including piezometer installation confirmed the missing timber sheet pile was the
likely cause of the piping incident. A piping risk assessment showed the residual risk of further piping
was reasonably high.
A range of remedial works was considered as permanent risk reduction works. However, these
solutions required extensive temporary works to expose the missing timber sheet pile including a
cofferdam to access the defect and partial demolition of a recently constructed fishway structure.
An alternate Secant ‘Grout Column’ solution was developed that comprised targeted drilling and
backfill grouting to close the gap where the sheet pile was not installed and to grout an inferred void
under the abutment structure. This solution was successful at reducing seepage through the
abutment structure, as indicated by monitoring piezometers.