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Old December 29th, 2012, 12:36 PM   #1
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INFRASTRUCTURE Report - DAMS (Critical)

INFRASTRUCTURE - America's Expensive Problem (that can't be ignored). Part 1 - DAMS

The infrastructure issue isn't just about dangers that will occur in the future (without massive expenditures to mitigate them). It is a combination of that and disasters that have already occured. One of these is a coal ash dam run by the Tennessee Valley Authority in Kingston, TN, which breached, spilling over a Billion gallons of hazardous waste across a 300 acre stretch of the Emory River. Coal ash (or fly ash) is powdery residue that remains when coal is used for power production. It's loaded with the toxins arsenic and titanium. Might this happen again ? Possible, especially when one considers that there are hundreds of coal ash dams throughout the US.

In 1976, the Grand Teton Dam, in Idaho, breached. 14 people died in the flooding. Hundreds of homes and other structures were destroyed. The most recent dam failure was the Ka Loko dam in Kilauea, Hawaii. This earthen dam, over 100 years old gave way in 2006, after a heavy rain.

Numbers : There are 85,000 dams in the USA, 4000 of them are unsafe, and 1899 of those are high hazard meaning they likely could kill people if they breach. These have quadrupled since 2001. (this is just by nature, not considering terrorist attack).

According to Brad Iarossi of the American Society of Civil Engineers, the number of unsafe dams is growing at a 45 degree angle on the graph, while the number we repair each year is a straight line (no increase or decrease). This gap is going to get wider and wider, until we get a funding source, and start reversing this trend, or we start having a major collapse of dams nationwide.

It is critical for dams to be inspected to certify mechanical gate function, that spillways aren't jammed with debris, and filters are not clogged, and yet, states have cut dam inspection due to lack of funds. Dams have been going without these critically necessary inspections. In 2007, Texas had 7 inspectors for 7,400 dams. The state was only able to look at 239 dams. That is 97% of the dams going UNinspected. Also in 2007, Iowa had 2 inspectors for 3,344 dams, and even one of those two was part-time. They only got to inspect 128 dams (96% went UNinspected). Alabama, with over 2,000 dams, doesn't even have an inspection agency to monitor dams.

So this brings us to the poster child of all problem dams in America. The infamous Wolf Creek Dam in southern Kentucky. It is over a mile long. and holds back the largest man-made reservoir east of the Mississippi. In fact, it is said that the Wolf Creek Dam is so huge that most of the other dams of the eastern US, could be fit into it. It was built in the 1940s on karst (highly porous limestone). experts concluded in 2997, that without urgent repairs, it would probably fail within 5 years. The US Army Corps of Engineers lowered the lake to reduce pressure on the dam. Five other major dams were built on porous limestone before engineers knew the ramifications of building on porous foundations, but Wolf Creek is probably the mist hazardous. It's failure effect is on the level of enormous. Six Million acre feet of water of Lake Cumberland would pour into the Cumberland River gushing downstream at 40 ft/second, flooding cities and towns for hundreds of miles. Scores of people would be killed and damages would be in the Billions.

Attempts to fix the dam have been minimal. Grout has been poured into the dam's numerous sinkholes, by the Army Corps, where water was detected seeping through the dam, but the seepage continued. In 1975, the Corps drove a 2,000 foot long barrier into the earthen half of the dam to stop the leaks. In 2004, new wet spots appeared. The Corps again poured grout into the limestone as a way of prepping the dam for a new wall. The Corps says the dam will be safe until the wall work is finished in 2012.

So what then is the overall view of this catastrophe waiting to happen by outside objective observers (in its worst possible, hopefully not probable), case ? In outline form, it could be put like this :

1. Heavy rains raise the level of Lake Cumberland and soak the earthen section of the dam.

2. Sinkholes form on the grassy surface of the dam.

3. They work their way up to the top of the dam, and the crest of it, including the roadway, begins to give way.

4. Lake Cumberland pours through the dam and erodes the dam from side to side, creating a 600 foot wide & 200 foot deep gap.

5. The powerful tsunami rushing down from the dam picks up trees, trucks, power lines and other debris, creating a battering ram at the front of the surge, simply obliterating everything in its path. (Think Japan).

6. In 2.5 days, the surge travels 280 river miles and hits Nashville, the state capitol.

7. Nashville is submerged under 20 feet of water. Titan Stadium will look more like Seaworld.

8. Thousand of people along the Cumberland River are wiped out.

Source: the HISTORY CHANNEL

Last edited by Protectionist; December 29th, 2012 at 01:00 PM.
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Old December 29th, 2012, 12:53 PM   #2
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Natural Gas pipelines worry me more...though our Dams are degrading badly. However, each Dam can be evaluated and repaired...the gas lines are everywhere and failing.

If we ignore this....water will be the least of our worries.
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Old December 29th, 2012, 01:00 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tecoyah View Post
Natural Gas pipelines worry me more...though our Dams are degrading badly. However, each Dam can be evaluated and repaired...the gas lines are everywhere and failing.

If we ignore this....water will be the least of our worries.
I hear ya. But I still can't help but think about Nashville, TN sitting right in the way of that Wolf Creek monster.
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Old December 29th, 2012, 01:10 PM   #4
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I know...it is right over the border.

But is insignificant when compared to a failing Natural Gas Infrastructure.

BORKED
BORKED

Imagine this becoming national.
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Old December 29th, 2012, 05:41 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tecoyah View Post
I know...it is right over the border.

But is insignificant when compared to a failing Natural Gas Infrastructure.

BORKED
BORKED

Imagine this becoming national.
When thousands of lives would be lost I don't use the word "insignificant". even in a comparative sense....but we are all free to express ourselves how we may.
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