NPR: Rapidly unfolding situation at cracked dam has engineers scrambling — Experts troubled over ‘slip’ in structure — Official “didn’t answer question” about dam near Hanford nuclear site — Major employer in area obviously worried — “Spring snow melt will swell river” — NBC: “Crack in Dam Repairs Itself”

Published: March 7th, 2014 at 7:31 am ET
By
Email Article Email Article
140 comments


Northwest Public Radio (NPR affiliate), Mar. 5, 2014:

  • Host: The situation on the Columbia River is rapidly unfolding with the damaged Wanapum Dam [...] teams of engineers are scrambling to figure out what’s gone wrong
  • Anna King, reporter: What’s troubling to experts on dams and concrete structures is [it] not only cracked, it’s slipped a little
  • Rob Shogren, Lafarge International concrete company technical director: A 2-inch thick crack can be significant, it depends on where it is in the structure, how deep it goes and what caused it
  • King: And what’s caused the mighty crack in the Wanapum Dam is the big question — John Osteraas, is a disaster expert [...] he doesn’t like the sound of what’s happening
  • Osteraas: We’ve certainly over history seen some fairly spectacular failures of dams, there’s an enormous amount of energy stored in the water behind the dam
  • King: What troubles Osteraas, is that the dam failed with no clear cause — it’s what disaster experts call a ‘sunny day scenario’
  • Osteraas: When things just fail in the normal course of events, under loads and forces that we thought were in the safe region, then we have to be much more aggressive, much more thorough in our inspection to make sure we understand the total picture
  • King: Osteraas says a good move right now would be to reduce water between Wanapum Dam and the next dam downriver, Priest Rapids [near Hanford nuclear site] — That would create a space between the 2 dams for the extra water if Wanapum was to fail — I asked Grant County’s Chuck Berrie if that was happening, he didn’t answer the question
  • Berrie: It’s not right that it will create a tidal wave downstream
  • King: But here’s the thing, when I asked about the contingency plan for what happens if the dam does bust, officials say they have drills and plans, but they aren’t sharing specifics
  • King: Steve Allen, he’s a major employer in the area and lives about 3 miles downstream [on a] 100 acre apple and cherry orchard [...] His eyes betray his worry about the dam
  • Allen: If it broke, if it actually came apart, and a lot of water came down through here, then my orchard would be severely affected — It’s only maybe 10 or 15 feet above the water level, if a huge amount of water came in here it would wipe out my orchard probably
  • King: The coming months could get complicated for dam engineers’ ‘band-aid’ efforts — Right now, the mighty Columbia River is at its low winter levels, but soon spring snow melt will swell the downstream river flows

NBC News, Mar. 6, 2014: 65-Foot-Long Crack in Washington Dam Repairs Itself — The Washington state dam where inspectors found a 65-foot-long crack last week has fixed itself [...] Grant County was under a flash flood watch because of the potential for uncontrolled water flow [...] utility district downgraded the dam’s status late Tuesday to ‘non-failure emergency’

Full broadcast here

Published: March 7th, 2014 at 7:31 am ET
By
Email Article Email Article
140 comments

Related Posts

  1. NPR: Operators struggle with major crack in dam; Spillway could topple — AP: “Extends all 65 ft across monolith”; About 20 miles from Hanford nuclear site — TV: “Pretty crazy… one of biggest dams in state, going to be a catastrophe if something happens” (VIDEO) March 4, 2014
  2. Emergency plan activated after ‘massive’ crack found in dam near nuclear site — Official: ‘Serious problem’; Failure risk ‘sufficiently high’ — NOAA: “Potential for rapid increase in flows” — Gov’t: Flooding could release radioactive waste from Hanford (VIDEO) March 2, 2014
  3. TV Journalist: Officials at U.S. nuclear site browbeat me for reporting on radioactive leaks — “You will be publicly humiliated” — Said I was basically an idiot — Never treated that way before (AUDIO) #Hanford July 17, 2013
  4. Radio: Uranium-contaminated plume covers 125 acres at U.S. nuclear site — Over 300 lbs. of uranium a year flowing into Columbia River (AUDIO) #Hanford July 30, 2013
  5. TV: Most hazardous material on planet leaking at U.S. nuclear site — Would contaminate our food chain for hundreds of years to come if it reaches Columbia River (VIDEO) April 29, 2013

140 comments to NPR: Rapidly unfolding situation at cracked dam has engineers scrambling — Experts troubled over ‘slip’ in structure — Official “didn’t answer question” about dam near Hanford nuclear site — Major employer in area obviously worried — “Spring snow melt will swell river” — NBC: “Crack in Dam Repairs Itself”

You must be logged in to post a comment.