HR Wallingford Emergency planners can use our tool, the Life Safety Model, to develop emergency plans for floods to help save lives. Technical Director Darren Lumbroso explains the vital role that such tools can play in planning how to deal with the consequences in areas where a dam is at risk of collapsing or an extreme flood is likely to occur.
Last August, the news was filled with images of a Royal Air Force Chinook helicopter dropping sandbags on a badly damaged dam near the town of Whaley Bridge to prevent the 150 year old structure from potentially releasing 1.3 million tonnes of water. In January 2019, a dam in Brazil collapsed, discharging 12 million cubic metres of toxic mining waste, (equivalent to the volume of 5,000 Olympic swimming pools), killing 250 people and polluting hundreds of kilometres of rivers and agricultural land.
There are tens of thousands of large dams worldwide which store water or mining waste. Although the chance of a dam failing is small, the consequences can be deadly. In 1975, the failure of several dams in the Henan Province of China resulted in an estimated 171,000 deaths and 11 million people losing their homes. In 1976, the collapse of Teton Dam in the USA led to 11 deaths and $2 billion of damage. In 2018, the failure of a dam in Laos resulted in at least 40 deaths and 6,600 people being made homeless. Click to read more