Regulatory risk for large civil engineering projects such as dams and hydropower schemes can be larger than the engineering risks. The seriousness of project regulatory risks is rarely acknowledged publicly and almost never dealt with contractually. The recent adoption by the World Bank of the FIDIC/ITA Emerald Book contractual framework introduces geotechnical baseline reports as a contractual mechanism for managing ground risk in World Bank hydro projects. Regulatory risks created by government agencies and utilities due to changing project requirements can likewise be managed by adopting the concept of geotechnical baselines to regulatory impositions as a baseline report.
Government agencies changing regulatory burdens mid project can fairly be held accountable for the
burdens of those changes by establishing regulatory baselines at the earliest stages of a project. By
contractually embedding regulatory risk baselines, governments and their agencies can adjust their
payments to reflect the changed cost in delivering an agreed project caused by regulatory changes. In this way the compensation for delivering a project more closely aligns with its value and cost. A regulatory baseline report in reducing project exposure due to regulatory change driven costs is a new tool in more efficient and competitive project delivery.
A transparent mechanism for costing regulatory change risk and apportioning it in accordance with pre agreed mechanisms, is an innovation of great use to the dam and hydropower sector.
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Jiri Herza, Kyle Smith, Ryan Singh
Following the failures of Samarco and Feijão dams, brittle failure has become a frequently discussed topic within the geotechnical community. The post-failure review of the Feijão Dam identified that the sudden failure of the dam was caused in part by tailings exhibiting brittle behaviour. Brittle failure has also been identified to be a contributing factor in many previous tailings storage facilities failures. Of concern to the tailings community was the finding that there were no apparent signs of distress prior to the failures, which characterises brittle failure.
The industry’s concern regarding the presence of brittle materials within tailings storage facilities, particularly when featuring upstream raises is evident in the requirements of the newly published Global Industry Standard on Tailings Management, which includes a requirement to “Identify and address brittle failure modes with conservative design criteria…”. This is also reflected in ANCOLD Guideline on Tailings Dams, which provides recommendations for conservative design assumptions if materials are found to be susceptible to static liquefaction which is noted to be a brittle subset of contractive materials. The ICMM’s Good Practice Guide for tailings management uses the term
brittle on numerous occasions and even refers to “credible brittle failure modes” when discussing the performance based approach. Despite its frequent use, the term brittle failure has not been defined in any of the listed references and the authors of this paper are not aware of the any clear geotechnical definition for brittle embankment failure in literature.
Brittleness, on the other hand, is a well-known geotechnical parameter that describes the degree of reduction of the soil shear resistance after reaching the peak strength. Bishop (1967) described the soil brittleness in the context of progressive failure of clays by means of a brittleness index, which is the ratio of the shear resistance loss to the peak shear strength. In recent years, the brittleness index has become a common soil parameter that is used as an indicator for tailings susceptibility to liquefaction. The brittleness index does not consider the rate at which the soil resistance reduces, and it ignores the stress strain relationship. As a result, the same brittleness index can be calculated for a soil that collapses over a very small strain range and a soil that gradually reduces its shear resistance over extensive strain levels as long as both soils have similar peak and residual shear strengths.
This paper discusses the root causes of brittle behaviour of tailings, summarises the current approach for brittleness assessment and recommends considerations and methods to assess and deal with potentially brittle soils within TSFs.
Rachel Jensen, Adam Broit, Chriselyn Kavanagh
Downstream emergency response is a critical driver in the consequences and potential life loss associated with dam flooding and failure. This response is highly varied between stakeholders, communities and the nature of the flooding or dam threat. As assessments on dam failure consequence and potential loss of life become increasingly important in understanding holistic dam risk, they are also becoming increasingly complex.
As part of a portfolio wide Comprehensive Risk Assessments, Sunwater have undertaken workshops with a wide range of stakeholders to better understand downstream emergency response and the warning timeline. The workshops have been aimed at facilitating better downstream stakeholder engagement, obtaining key data for consequence assessments and developing consistency in assumptions for potential life loss.
This paper presents the standardised methodology undertaken for warning time workshops, the outcomes for a range of downstream stakeholders and correlations between stakeholder groups which influence warning time response. These outcomes may be used by practitioners in the absence of catchment specific warning time data and provide a counterpoint to international standard warning time assumptions.
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.
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.
Jarrad Coffey and John Plunkett
As tailings standards continue to evolve, a greater focus is being placed on the monitoring of tailings storage facilities (TSFs). While this is a positive development for TSF safety into the future, it is only one component of the work required to implement Performance Based Risk Informed (PBRI) management. There is also a significant human element that can be aided by reducing the time spent of personnel sourcing/aggregating data and instead focussing on decision making. It is discussed in this paper how a more holistic approach to monitoring via a dashboard that displays all management data relevant to a portfolio of TSFs can be applied in parallel to risk assessment to work towards the goal of PBRI. The dashboard also facilitates review and governance activities, which are central to the Global Industry Standard on Tailings Management. An example of the dashboard utilised at Rio Tinto Iron Ore is presented to provide an example of such a system and its benefits.