potential problems with dams

greenspun.com : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

http://www.russkelly.com/ click experts, scroll down to Dr. Paula Gordon and click:click here for statement from Paula, scroll down to (may 1999)


I call for the establishmentof a special action office for y2k.A major funtion of this office would be to work as smartly and rapidly as possible to minimize potential dissastrous or catastropic impacts that could result from any or all of the following:

~failures involving weapons systems

~the failure of nuclear power plants

~the failure of chemical plants(80% of the American public live within close proximity to chemical plant),

~the failure of pipelines and refineries,

~the failure of hazardous material sites,

~the failure of dams

end snip

If she takes this seriously, why shouldn't we?Could there be a problem with embeded chips,control valves,etc.

-- maggie (aaa@aaa.com), September 10, 1999


I worked in a dam for several years as a computer programmer. I even wrote a major dam maintenence and monitoring program (yes, using two digit year fields). However, I did not write any of the control systems that opens and closes gates, valves, spillway, etc. The only thing I can envision that could go wrong with the system that I wrote was the program could indicate that the dam was failing due to incorrect readings on the various sensing stations. This would be checked out manually by inspectors to verify that the sensors were not acting up - and once that was verified, the computer code would then be suspect.

I will say that the computerization of the dams I've worked in back in the early 80's was quite advanced, even then and very likely, more so even now. They (government) removed almost all the plant operators that used to manually work the controls from a control room and replaced these guys (and gals) with computers. There were some dams that didn't have any plant operators there at all, and would be spot checked from time to time by an inspector. I wonder if there will be on-site help at these dams in the form of a biological human entity to monitor the roll-over date? To think we trust these silicon chips so much... and the guys who programmed them... There might not even be enough qualified plant operators around to do this - back then, they were getting rid of these people as they were getting replaced with computers. Something to think about, I just don't know if there has been any accomodation for possible plant operator shortages. If you have dams in your area, and if you live downstream, you might want to give them a call and find out if they have live humans around to help control things should they be needed. Just an idea.

-- Ray Shuster (shusters@montanasky.net), September 10, 1999.


I will check out what you suggested about, a person standing by in case of any problems.There is a thread on concern with dams posted below.The man said some one from his town was planning to be at the dam at rollover.

Given your history with programs and dams, what type of flooding is possible? Are you thinking sudden, without warning, flooding of entire towns?

-- maggie (aaa@aaa.com), September 11, 1999.

Ray, that's really interesting. I hadn't thought about it. Have you ever read the book about the early days of Bonneville Dam, when a mistake made by an undertrained substitute worker opened a valve which flooded several tunnels withing the dam? The water filled in so much of the tunnels before anyone realized there was a problem that it started shorting out generators. It was nip and tuck, figuring out what to do before the last generators went out, which would have rendered the dam basically unusable. Disaster was only prevented by the truly heroic actions of one or two engineers who WADED upstream through fairly deep, fairly swift, and very cold (forty degrees) water for something like and hour, if I recall correctly, to manually shut the valve, whose electric solenoid was flooded out by this time.

It is fascinating readin; I regret that I don't remember the title or who wrote it, as it's been several years ago that I read it, but I'm sure it could be located through one of the search engines.

Anyway, if HUMANS had not been there to figure out what was going on, the dum-dum computers wouldn't have been able to fix the problem. The entire northwest U.S. would have been blacked out for possibly YEARS, because Bonneville was the first big columbia river dams.

Food for thought, eh?


-- Al K. Lloyd (all@ready.now), September 11, 1999.

Here in Calif very few dams are isolated entities. Their status, the status of the upstream & downstream water flows, reservoir water level, seismology stations, electrical generation, canal status, tunnel status, weather stations, etc. are under the domain of the Calif Dept of Water Resources primarily, then the Army Corps of Engineers.

Calif's overall status is terrible. The Office of Emergency Services is a small office if one considers a statewide problem. In the North Central Valley we have 3 big dams, the Shasta, Whiskeytown, and Oroville dams. I've been told that Oroville and Shasta we converted to computers about 7 years ago, Whiskeytown - unknown. An intricate web on communication and data collation helps the engineers work these dams. A problem with a dam could easily stem from causes other than floodgates and generators.

Also to consider, NorCal's water is canaled, pumped, and tunneled down to the LA Basin - all reliant upon a considerable infrastructure. The Central Valley's Ag Businesses rely to some extent upon dams for water, and most certainly rely a lot upon the generated electricity. Canals of all sizes crisscross the land from at least Stockton north up to Redding - some are obviously automated. Recently saw a new generator installed at one of the auto facilities - have no idea what it was for.

-- Mitchell Barnes (spanda@inreach.com), September 11, 1999.

Thanks to all for the information.I hope those in charge of the dams are aware of the possible problems and are taking the appropriate measures to safegaurd the public.

-- maggie (aaa@aaa.com), September 11, 1999.

If things get bad and the opportunity arises, there are many in No. Ca. who would blow up canals leading to the south. There are many in No. Ca. who resent the stealing of our water so more golf courses can be built and more swimming pools filled in areas that are over populated already.

-- Homeschooling Grandma (mlaymon@glenn-co.k12.ca.us), September 11, 1999.

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