Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Damming News From Washington State

Soulskill posted about 7 months ago | from the one-dam-project-after-another dept.

Earth 168

Trax3001BBS writes "A 65-foot (20-meter) crack has been found in Wanapum Dam, one of the major dams along the Columbia River in southern Washington. Water levels are being lowered to both reduce water pressure and give the inspectors access to the area. 'Earlier this week, an engineer noticed a slight irregular "bowing" above the spillway gates near where cars can drive across the dam. When divers finally took a look under water they found a 2-inch-wide crack that stretched for 65 feet along the base of one of the dam's spillway piers.' The article goes on to say, 'Even if the dam doesn't fail, the significance of the damage is likely to require extensive repairs and that, too, could impact the entire Columbia River system. "All these dams coordinate to generate energy on a regional scope," Stedwick said. "If Wanapum is impacted, that has impacts on dams upstream as well as below." Upstream dams would be required to handle more water; there's only one lower dam (Priest Rapids). After that is the last free flowing section of the Columbia river. I've taken walks along that section, and I've seen it deviate (higher or lower) by amazing amount of water, so it can handle the changing flow rate. Making this situation more complex, a large group of people would like that particular dam removed, as well as the one above and below it (think of the fish!). On top of that, after the Priest Rapids dam (downstream from Wanapum Dam) is the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, once a site for Plutonium production. Either of these issues could generate a ton of attention. Personally, I'd like to give the engineer that noticed a slight irregular 'bowing' my congratulations."

cancel ×

168 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

WTF? (2, Insightful)

Sharkyfour (14327) | about 7 months ago | (#46379447)

I know this is going to kill my karma, but WTF?? That is the most poorly written article I've ever seen on here and I'd wager that most would find it completely off-topic for the site. Combined with the new commenting system, and I think my days here are over. It's been a fun ride, but adios Slashdot.

Re:WTF? (-1, Troll)

gIobaljustin (3526197) | about 7 months ago | (#46379533)

That might be the case, but it might also not be the case.

Re: WTF? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46379557)

I have to agree. Why was this posted here? Because a civil engineer spotted a crack? The link between "news for nerds" and a cracked dam is pretty tenuous.

Re: WTF? (2)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46379675)

Um, you know, geeks aren't just interested in the latest software abomination running on 200 incomprehensible layers of poorly documented features to run some game on a cell phone for about a week, you know?

Re: WTF? (4, Insightful)

xyzzyman (811669) | about 7 months ago | (#46379737)

Unless the damn was built after using 3d rendered models and ran through thousands of simulations then it isn't "tech". It took no math or science to build the Erie Canal, the Hoover Dam or the Panama Canal. In seriousness this is a better story on the site than a story about outstanding student loan debt. The engineering in projects like this and what it will take to fix it requires the same skills as people who design realistic game environments and physics simulators, etc. Many facets all come into play. Anyone who doesn't see this as "news for nerds" should probably go visit the Hoover Dam or tour an aircraft carrier.

Re: WTF? (4, Insightful)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | about 7 months ago | (#46379783)

It took no math or science to build the Erie Canal, the Hoover Dam or the Panama Canal.

Unfortunately, I had to read the rest of your post three times to make sure you weren't seriously claiming this. It's amazing the number of self-proclaimed nerds who don't seem to understand that technology actually does predate computers.

Re: WTF? (0)

ALeader71 (687693) | about 7 months ago | (#46381177)

Agreed. There are supposedly well educated people who believe none of the public works projects like Hoover Dam used private companies to build them. Thankfully a simple search proves them wrong.

Re: WTF? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46379847)

The engineering in projects like this and what it will take to fix it requires the same skills as people who design realistic game environments

What? You are a moron.

Re: WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46380073)

That was a poorly written statement. You mix sarcasm with "seriousness" and do it in an unclear manner. Best to stick with one or the other in the future.

Re: WTF? (1)

RobertLTux (260313) | about 7 months ago | (#46380641)

could somebody beat this guy on the head with a few sliderules?? and then stone him with the beads from a few hundred abacuses??

Re: WTF? (1)

sjames (1099) | about 7 months ago | (#46379797)

Clearly the dam isn't the only thing that's cracked.

Re: WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46379829)

But crack are the excuse of the KKk. They hate everyone.

Re:WTF? (2, Insightful)

PPH (736903) | about 7 months ago | (#46379559)

That is the most poorly written article I've ever seen on here

Stand by ....

and I'd wager that most would find it completely off-topic for the site.

Why? It deals with engineering and technology. If it was a crack in a Shuttle SRB seal we'd be discussing it. It may not be cool and sexy like the latest s/w SNAFU, but infrastructure gobbles up a lot of money and its maintenance (or lack thereof) is a major issue in this country and others.

Re: WTF? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46379961)

That isn't as bad as he republicans theta blame everything on the people that work.

Re: WTF? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46379583)

It's because the Republicans want us All to die. They killed my mother with a different dam so this is nothing out of the ordinary for Republicans.

Re: WTF? (2)

The Grim Reefer (1162755) | about 7 months ago | (#46379719)

It's because the Republicans want us All to die. They killed my mother with a different dam so this is nothing out of the ordinary for Republicans.

Washington state mostly voted for a democrat in the last presidential election. Has a democrat for governor. Has six members who are democrat to four republican in the US house of representatives and both senators are democrats. Is 55 to 43 in favor of the democrats in the lower state house. And is 26 to 23 in favor of the dems in the state senate. But the republicans are responsible for this dam? If that's the case, the democrats in that state should all be shot for gross incompetence. Or perhaps the republicans used voodoo? I've heard they do eat their young, on occasion.

I'm sorry to hear about your mother. But if somehow the government was responsible, then you need to direct your ire toward both parties as there is no way only one party could have done this without the other at least knowing.

Most likely someone screwed up in the engineering, or something was wrong with a batch of concrete. Worst case, an inspector got paid to look the other way. Or missed something.

Re: WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46379763)

Bull shit. The republicans. Rule Seattle. They make sure a certain percentage of us die of starvation.

Re: WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46379765)

*whoooooooooosssssshhhhhhhh* talk about missing something!

Re: WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46379805)

Republicans malice to seer people die. They alway rape women. Guck those stupid white peiple that worship. The ikjj. So typical if their kid. They're all racist. That is the American way. The Apl want us to siÃcle c that is what they are all like. Death is the Republucan way.

Re: WTF? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46379885)

They want chdrwb that don't gave parents that work to due. That are horrible pweor. My bass is one ls them. That are horrible.

Re: WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46379635)

It's because the Republicans want us all to die. They killed my mother with a different dam so this is nothing out of the ordinary for Republicans.

Re: WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46379781)

But the conservative vati e apass vole here will never recognize
That. They want us to die. They hate everyone. They kill and tape women which is ll they want todo. Everyone of those Republicans want us
To die.

people cheer as world ends (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46379463)

cloned dinosaurs escape their cages and stampede the earth, sending millions of flesh light users into the depths of the earth, where still more dinosaurs eat them and hang some as tapestries.

Re:people cheer as world ends (1)

sumdumass (711423) | about 7 months ago | (#46379673)

WTF.. I goggled flesh light thinking it was something I should know but never heard of before. Surprisingly, it's a masturbation product. So why do you think only males who masturbate with a flashlight looking thing will be sent into the depths of the earth and what makes you think there are millions of them?

I mean hell, I can deal with the dinosaurs.. I just don't know about the flesh light things.

Re:people cheer as world ends (1)

torsmo (1301691) | about 7 months ago | (#46379855)

You have to be hung like a tapestry to understand fleshlights.

Dam it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46379471)

nt

Well fix the dam thing! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46379473)

Don't just write about it, fix the dam thing! You need to be proud of a water works. Think of the first people who stared at it at its completion. I can see them now, a father and his daughter, and the father says, "That is a fine dam thing."

Re:Well fix the dam thing! (2)

xyzzyman (811669) | about 7 months ago | (#46379747)

All I see is Beavis asking, "Is this a God dam?"

Sing a long (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46379477)

"Bow down to Washington!"

what, too soon?

how about "Roll on Columbia, Roll on"?
"Washington my home"?

WTF (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46379487)

Can't hey just open up the spillways of the down river dam so they can lower the water level?
Or is this just some BS about not wanting to waste power generating capacity?

I'm sure all that money will help you when the dam breaks due to your delaying. Then again, the people deciding these things probably won't even be affected.

Re:WTF (1)

tysonedwards (969693) | about 7 months ago | (#46379511)

There is this crazy new idea called "wanting to deal with the excess water" should one "just open up the spillways".

The water goes somewhere, after all. Would probably piss off a bunch of home owners in Beverly should their riverfront homes quite suddenly become riverboat homes.

Re:WTF (2)

PNutts (199112) | about 7 months ago | (#46379613)

Actually, "bring it on". Bonneville (one of the five dams below it) generates a considerable amount of power for my area. On the other hand, we'll need that water this summer if we don't get more snowpack in the mountains.

Re:WTF (1)

RobertLTux (260313) | about 7 months ago | (#46380651)

okay have somebody throw a bottle of water at you kind of hurts right?? Now have somebody do that with say ten thousand bottles??

I've got nothing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46379491)

What did the fish say when he swam into a wall?

Re:I've got nothing (1)

michrech (468134) | about 7 months ago | (#46379563)

I'm pretty sure it was established that the fish say, "blub blub blub".

Lower the river, obviously (5, Insightful)

Applehu Akbar (2968043) | about 7 months ago | (#46379497)

If there is only one dam below Wanapum, this will be easy. But don't miss an opportunity to throw in a totally irrelevant mention of the Hanford nuclear weapons complex - you know, that place that itself gets irrelevantly dragged into any discussion of commercial nuclear power.

Re:Lower the river, obviously (1)

murphtall (1979734) | about 7 months ago | (#46379561)

irrelevant? *blinks* hanford being downstream from a damned leaking dam is irrelevant? (Here's a map ) *blinks* hanford being the one that was leaking just months ago? http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-20...> maybe it's just me but i see the relevance

Re:Lower the river, obviously (1)

PNutts (199112) | about 7 months ago | (#46379639)

Yes. And we don't have to worry about Trojan anymore. But now that I think about it the containment wessel was shipped to Hansford and buried. It would be a real bitch to see that thing floating back downriver.

Re:Lower the river, obviously (2)

QuasiEvil (74356) | about 7 months ago | (#46379725)

Hanford, for the most part, sits high above the Columbia. A few feet of rise in the Columbia would almost certainly change nothing in relation to stored radioactive sludge tanks. Any ground seepage that was going on yesterday will still go on tomorrow, but as a bonus, the additional flow will provide greater dilution... It's a total red herring in this discussion.

Re:Lower the river, obviously (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46379827)

Hanford is a flood plain, at least as defined by insurance companies. Most downriver communities are as well, some for similar reasons.

Love the URL chopping (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46380721)

Bad enough when we can no longer "read" linked URLs. Now, failed URL link attempts mean "we'll never know".

Thank you, new slashdot, (1) for making me look elsewhere, (2) for helping me get more work done and (3) for all the fish.

Re:Lower the river, obviously (3, Informative)

Jawnn (445279) | about 7 months ago | (#46381227)

If there is only one dam below Wanapum, this will be easy.

Not so much. The author of TFS is an idiot. He missed McNary, John Day, The Dalles, and Bonneville dams.

Moisture inside the dam wall (2, Informative)

MichaelSmith (789609) | about 7 months ago | (#46379523)

I believe the biggest problem with cracked dam walls is that moisture gets into the interior of the wall and softens the material which is keeping it strong. Then the crack opens a little bit more, more water gets in and you have a nice exponential curve happening.

There was a rumour about this happening to the hume reservoir in Australia about 20 years ago.

Re:Moisture inside the dam wall (5, Informative)

wiredlogic (135348) | about 7 months ago | (#46379619)

Water doesn't "soften" concrete. H2O is molecularly bound into its structure and is a necessary part of maintaining the strength of concrete. Water invading earthen dams, on the other hand, is a more serious problem.

Re:Moisture inside the dam wall (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46379667)

A little water can be ok.

Too much water can be bad.

Re:Moisture inside the dam wall (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46379713)

Don't they use rebar in concrete dams? Once the rebar is exposed, especially in an underwater environment, you're pretty screwed.

Re:Moisture inside the dam wall (2)

rhook (943951) | about 7 months ago | (#46379799)

I don't know about all dams but the Hoover Dam is not reinforced.

Unless (2)

justthinkit (954982) | about 7 months ago | (#46380733)

Unless you count the 582 miles [wikipedia.org] of cooling pipes.

Re:Moisture inside the dam wall (1)

matfud (464184) | about 7 months ago | (#46381171)

The Hover dam is not reinforced but is full of 1 inch diameter steel pipes (that were used for cooling)

Re:Moisture inside the dam wall (1)

QuasiEvil (74356) | about 7 months ago | (#46379735)

It doesn't damage the concrete, but it sure as hell damages the reinforcing steel.

Re:Moisture inside the dam wall (3, Informative)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 7 months ago | (#46379795)

The steel is bathed in moisture for decades without weakening. Concrete hardens and is stronger under water. Water cracks concrete via the thaw freeze cycle. Water enters the void, freezes, expands, widens the void. But a 60 foot long crack suggests something shifted under the damn.

Re:Moisture inside the dam wall (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46379935)

A lot of attention has to be paid to the chemical and pH environment within concrete to stop the rebar from corroding. The steel within the concrete is not "bathed" in moisture in the sense it makes no difference if it is in the concrete or the bottom of a reservoir. It is a serious issue when the rebar starts to corrode from incoming moisture and/or from screwing up the chemistry of the concrete, and the signs of it happening are distinctive and easy to see in some amounts in a lot of constructions. The issue is that long before the corrosion is enough to weaken the rebar, its growth increases the volume of the rebar which eventually causes the concrete to crack. Near the surface, you get a distinctive flaking off of concrete and exposed rusting rebar. Otherwise it is much like the way ice damages rocks, but it is continuous instead of cyclic.

Re:Moisture inside the dam wall (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46380605)

Not true. Water only causes rust if there's oxygen present. If there's no oxygen dissolved in the water, then you don't get rust.

Re:Moisture inside the dam wall (1)

wagnerrp (1305589) | about 7 months ago | (#46380747)

Not true. There's oxygen present in the water itself. Pure water tends to not rust iron, as there is no conductivity to drive the electrochemical reaction. River water is not "pure", but will have lots of salts and other dissolved solids that will raise the conductivity of the water and allow the reaction to occur.

Re:Moisture inside the dam wall (1)

theguyfromsaturn (802938) | about 7 months ago | (#46380209)

Not sure what you mean by water "invading" earthen dams... but just for the record, earth dams are always full of water that seeps through the component soils to one degree or another. High flow (in cracks say, or because of overtopping) is a problem at it will cause erosion, which may eventually lead to failure, but water "invading" them is not a problem, it's a given.

That being said, you are correct in mentionning that concrete actually requires water to harden through hydration. The problem with cracks in a concrete dam, is that they propagate, and the pressure of the water will certainly help them do so.

Re:Moisture inside the dam wall (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46380341)

Well sort of anyway. What water will do is corrode the rebar which swells when the iron oxides accumulate on the rebar. That pulverises the concrete near the rebar thus softening the concrete. These days shist can be melted and formed into rebar which has no iron and will not react to water within the concrete. Rebar made from shist has unusually high strength compared to iron rods and also has far less weight. If the cement is from volcanic sources and shist is used for rebar very long lasting concrete can be created that will even last for centuries when submerged in salt water.
                    I will also say that it is obvious that nuclear reactors have been built in places that never should have been used and these sites are a serious threat to te survival of the human race. Ask Japan what can happen if a reactor is near a beach.

Re:Moisture inside the dam wall (5, Informative)

Solandri (704621) | about 7 months ago | (#46379883)

It has nothing to do with the moisture. It has to do with pressure. A dam represents a boundary layer between high pressure (behind the dam) and low pressure (air in front of the dam. An intact dam's structure distributes those stresses evenly throughout its structure, and transfers them into the mountains/hills at the sides of the dam. A crack shifts the stresses which would've been borne by the cracked section to the uncracked sections, and particularly at the corners of the cracks. The high stresses at the corners cause the crack to grow. Eventually the crack grows large enough that the stresses are more than the uncracked section can withstand, and the dam fails.

That's what the engineer noticed. The dam was bulging because the uncracked section was holding back so much more stress than its design load that it physically deformed. 65 feet is a damn big crack (no pun intended). That engineer deserves a ticker tape parade in his honor.

Re:Moisture inside the dam wall (1)

confused one (671304) | about 7 months ago | (#46380725)

The biggest problem with cracking in a concrete dam wall is the stress it creates on the surrounding material, and the concentration of forces created at the crack edges. I know this is /. but might I suggest you read something on crack propagation?

up vs down stream (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46379531)

Wouldn't the Downstream dams be the ones required to handle the excess water flowing past Wapanum? Someone needs to lookup the definitions for up/downstream.

Re:up vs down stream (1)

Oysterville (2944937) | about 7 months ago | (#46379581)

Not really. Anything upstream would have to take at least part of the load.

Re:up vs down stream (1)

rhook (943951) | about 7 months ago | (#46379803)

Not if the upstream dams slow down their output. That would lower the levels downstream.

William Mulholland didn't take action (4, Informative)

kriston (7886) | about 7 months ago | (#46379541)

William Mulholland didn't take action when the St. Francis Dam performed similarly, and after his inspection, killed up to 600 people twelve hours after his inspection.

Re:William Mulholland didn't take action (2)

DerekLyons (302214) | about 7 months ago | (#46380025)

William Mulholland didn't take action when the St. Francis Dam performed similarly, and after his inspection, killed up to 600 people twelve hours after his inspection.

The situation is just a *bit* more complex than your soundbite would indicate - and any repairs made on the cracks he inspected on the 12th of March would almost certainly have been just re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. It's almost certain that the foundation on the west end of the dam had already been fatally compromised and the cracks were a symptom of the impending failure rather than the cause.

Re:William Mulholland didn't take action (3, Interesting)

DarwinSurvivor (1752106) | about 7 months ago | (#46380243)

It's almost certain that the foundation on the west end of the dam had already been fatally compromised and the cracks were a symptom of the impending failure rather than the cause.

Could the same not be true in this case as well? Even if the dam is irreparably damaged, this will at least hopefully give enough warning to relieve the pressure or in the worst case scenario, evacuate the immediate down-stream area.

Any pictures? (1)

elliott666 (447115) | about 7 months ago | (#46379551)

Any pictures of the crack? Save the story for later.

Re:Any pictures? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46379567)

Just do a google image search for gapping crack.

Re:Any pictures? (1, Funny)

PNutts (199112) | about 7 months ago | (#46379573)

For the love of god don't waken the goatse guy.

Re:Any pictures? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46380143)

Considering the Republicans disagree, he would agree with all of the high caste people I know. The Republicans are trying to destroy that lifestyle.

"Think of the Fish" (3, Informative)

Oysterville (2944937) | about 7 months ago | (#46379571)

That last free-flowing stretch of the Columbia River that the OP mentions is also the last stretch of Columbia River that maintains spawning habitat. It also accounts for a very large portion of the salmon that return through the Columbia River estuary every year. If removing this dam would open up more spawning habitat, this would not be a bad thing.

Re:"Think of the Fish" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46379825)

Did you stop to take fisheries into account? They release a ton of salmon and other fish every year.

http://wdfw.wa.gov/hatcheries/... [wa.gov]

While more spawning habitat would not be a bad thing, they're not the only source of fish.

Re:"Think of the Fish" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46379999)

They release a ton of salmon and other fish every year.

According to your link, they release about five and a half tons of salmon... every day.

Re:"Think of the Fish" (0)

Jawnn (445279) | about 7 months ago | (#46381245)

That last free-flowing stretch of the Columbia River that the OP mentions is also the last stretch of Columbia River that maintains spawning habitat.

You mean the stretch that actually has four more dams on it? That free flowing stretch?

Netflix (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46379575)

If there is a downstream issues with the water bandwidth, maybe the dam should strike a deal with Netflix as well?

RAF refuses comment (4, Funny)

Nimey (114278) | about 7 months ago | (#46379587)

Meanwhile, the RAF categorically denies that an Avro Lancaster was seen near the dam earlier that day.

Obligatory Gallagher joke (1)

Marginal Coward (3557951) | about 7 months ago | (#46379617)

Water levels are being lowered to both reduce water pressure and give the inspectors access to the area.

"This just shows how the government wastes your money. They've even got dam inspectors. We don't need no dam inspectors."

rack off beta (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46379631)

yes pbeta sucks

could've been huge. hydro failure killed 200,000 (4, Interesting)

raymorris (2726007) | about 7 months ago | (#46379633)

I'm sure glad they caught it. China has a similar series of hydroelectric dams. A failure caused a domino effect and when the Banquai dam failed it killed 200,000 people. I know TFA says the failure of this one dam wouldn't kill that many people, but that assumes the sudden tidal-wave-like flood doesn't effect the downstream dams. A domino failure on the Columbia river would be a catastrophe.

Re:could've been huge. hydro failure killed 200,00 (3, Funny)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about 7 months ago | (#46379881)

Don't worry - the only thing downstream from this dam is Portland.

O.M.G (4, Funny)

malakai (136531) | about 7 months ago | (#46379653)

This is the problem with Hydro power. This is why we should go 100% solar and not use electricity at night. We can't safely use Hydro, it's too dangerous, the pressure levels and engineering is too dangerous and a single mistake could kill an entire ecosystem.

Think of the children down river from this dam!

If you have any incandescent bulbs, _YOU'RE_ to blame as well.

-Francis Candlemaker

Re:O.M.G (4, Informative)

Solandri (704621) | about 7 months ago | (#46379863)

You joke, but the worst power generation-related accident in history was the failure of a series of hydroelectric dams [wikipedia.org] . About 30x more deaths than estimated by the UN and WHO to have been caused by Chernobyl.

I don't mean to say coal and oil are safer - they kill far more when used as intended. But the fact that the fuel needs to be delivered to a combustion chamber means you can usually cut off the energy source, limiting the scope of a single accident. That's not the case with hydro - once the water gets moving, there's pretty much nothing anything man-made can do to stop it. All that energy is gonna be released. Likewise, nuclear rates high in risk because the energy density of the fuel is so high - a million times higher than petroleum. Solar and wind would appear to be low-risk, but that's an illusion generated by their low energy density. When you normalize for how many solar panels or wind turbines need to be installed and maintained to generate 1 GWh of electricity, they end up killing more people than nuclear.

Everything has risk. The question isn't how much risk there is per disaster. It's how much risk there is per unit of energy generated.

Re:O.M.G (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46380159)

It's not impossible to use solar and forms of storage such as hot salts or hydrolysis on industrial scales or batteries on a small scale, but it is not ideal. Wind can offset requirements, of course, but there can still be gaps in provision. No energy generation system is without negative consequences, and it wouldn't be appropriate to put all eggs into one basket.

Re:O.M.G (1)

dbIII (701233) | about 7 months ago | (#46380557)

and not use electricity at night

If you look at demand curves it's pretty close to that already unless it's somewhere cold.

Re:O.M.G (1)

grep -v '.*' * (780312) | about 7 months ago | (#46380675)

This is why we should go 100% solar and not use electricity at night.

Damn. I can't find the link -- maybe this [theecologist.org] ?

I remember reading an article maybe 5 years ago about how in Europe (Germany?) they were providing subsidies for solar power. During an audit, they discovered one company providing (and billing for) generating solar power at night.

How? Easy: diesel generators.

Re:O.M.G (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 7 months ago | (#46380719)

Actually you do kinda have a point, even though your post is supposed to be a parody of anti-nuclear arguments on safety grounds. It seems that organizations, particularly commercial ones, are terrible at maintaining safety over long periods of time. Safety costs money and the temptation is to just put it off until the individual responsible moves on and it becomes someone else's problem to break the bad news to the people holding the purse strings.

Fukushima could have been prevented if TEPCO had made the necessary improvements they were told to make, or spent more money training staff for emergencies. Numerous air disasters could have been prevented if the airline had spend more money on maintenance and upgrades, like heated pitot tubes. Design flaws in cars that were known about have killed people.

Mostly we accept these things because we like low prices and the number of people killed is deemed an acceptable cost to maintain them. I would argue that in the case of nuclear and some hydro installations the cost is unacceptable. I don't know enough about this dam to say if that is the case here, but as a general principal I'd say that there has to be some upper limit on risk/cost we are willing to tolerate.

Re:O.M.G (1)

ALeader71 (687693) | about 7 months ago | (#46381159)

So we should follow North Korea's example and have a government enforced "lights out" policy? No thanks. I prefer the 21st century over the 18th.

Spring water (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46379655)

The Eastern US has gotten a lot of snow this winter. When it all melts we're going to get epic flooding.

Re:Spring water (1)

torsmo (1301691) | about 7 months ago | (#46379869)

Noah, you won't.

Congratulate him for doing his job? (0)

rahvin112 (446269) | about 7 months ago | (#46379661)

Sure congratulate him for doing his job. But don't think for a minute that this issue wouldn't be seen on major dams because they are, all the time. Dam's are monitored for these issues. Routine and annual inspections are made. This is done precisely to prevent accidents like we've had in the past. Dams must be monitored because water is relentless at finding ways to breach the containment.

Re:Congratulate him for doing his job? (1)

Frobnicator (565869) | about 7 months ago | (#46379727)

Sure congratulate him for doing his job. ... Dam's are monitored for these issues. Routine and annual inspections are made.

I think that is why so many people above are disliking the story.

Inspector does job, discovers the exact issue he is paid to find. Repair crews dispatched. Disaster averted. SUCCESS!

dams down river (5, Insightful)

wildfish (779284) | about 7 months ago | (#46379665)

There are 5 dams down stream of wanapum, 1 above the free flowing hanford reach and 4 dams below that. River "operations" involve a complicated coordination of all the dams and reservoirs to provide adequate flow for fish and year-round power generation. It is an interesting engineering problem - hacking a river. There is also a computer angle here in that several data centers are located in Grant County (which owns the generation rights) to take advantage of the cheap reliable power. Presumably those data centers are watching this closely. Power rates for everyone in the county will rise if they have less power to sell or if they have to buy power from outside the county. The system is dependent upon storage for of moving water down stream the river is very interesting in that water flowing through one dam

Re:dams down river (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46379771)

You're correct. This is an "issue" because it's standard BR procedure, and all federal entities must be notified for this. SOP...

This is not a major problem right now, as it could be solved pretty easily. However, 24 miles downstream is the Hanford area, which borders 520 sq. miles of variously polluted soil. A sudden breach of Wanapum could cause a breach of Priest Rapids dam (~10 miles away) and flood the Hanford area, which has small areas of high radioactive contamination, the likes of which are part of a $2 billion/yr effort to clean. This area is generally a plain, with high features (White Bluffs) as it moves towards the Reach, to move water towards Hanford. The breach could spread flooding into these areas, which the US DOE hasn't accurately modeled. The other problem is the Tri-Cities, only 15 miles further downstream. 250,000 people...Their water supply is in danger.

There is no likely danger of this happening.

I grew up worrying this same thing, if the Grand Coulee failed.

Data centers (4, Informative)

gbnewby (74175) | about 7 months ago | (#46379807)

The data centers in Quincy are quite large. Microsoft has a major facility, which is undergoing expansion. So does Yahoo, Intuit, Dell, and Sabey. These are major components of the tax base for the town of Quincy and elsewhere in Grant County. The data centers are highly resilient to power loss, with on-site diesel generators, 24x7 staffing, and all the other protections you'd expect. But prolonged use of the generators, if it becomes necessary, could exceed the permitted run time and accompanying pollution the facilities are allowed. Most likely, power from the other dams the Grant County PUD operates (or elsewhere on the regional power grid) could be routed to the data centers.

There are some other huge electricity consumers in the county. It's the world headquarters of a company that makes photovoltaic components, and also several food processors (all those potatoes from eastern Washington gotta be processed and cooked!). Industrial users might be able to turn down their power usage if there is a regional shortage, but data centers tend to operate at fairly stable 24x7 consumption levels. Major companies like those listed above have redundant facilities, and can shunt processing to other centers if required.

Site selection for major electricity consumers, including data centers, is a fascinating topic. The State of Washington has had various tax incentives to help businesses to choose to build facilities there. Electricity costs are among the lowest in the nation (under 3 cents/kWh for industrial customers). Plus, it makes extensive use of renewable sources, particularly hydroelectric (i.e., dams) and wind energy. Oregon has a similar story to tell, with their own rivers, dams, tax breaks, etc., and is part of why Amazon elected to put a huge facility there.

Only one lower dam (except for the other 4) (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46379671)

> there's only one lower dam (Priest Rapids)

Um, unless I'm missing something, looking at the map that statement links to shows 4 dams below Priest Rapids: Mcnary, John Day, The Dalles and Bonneville.
Could the OP possibly be mistaken?

Forgive the OT, but (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46379755)

"Impact" is not a verb!

Stop it!

Re:Forgive the OT, but (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46380233)

Yes, it is. It's usage as verb is quite correct. Look it up in the dictionary.

Enough with the beta, I am not on a tablet (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46379787)

This interface might make sense on a tablet, which I am not viewing it on.

Enough already.

Re:Enough with the beta, I am not on a tablet (0, Offtopic)

jpatters (883) | about 7 months ago | (#46379859)

The beta interface doesn't make sense on any device.

Misread (1)

nitehawk214 (222219) | about 7 months ago | (#46380277)

Personally, I'd like to give the engineer that noticed a slight irregular 'bowing'...

I first read that as: "Personally, I'd like to give the engineer a slight irregular bowing."

Re:Misread (1)

dbIII (701233) | about 7 months ago | (#46380565)

I first read that as: "Personally, I'd like to give the engineer a slight irregular bowing."

If it was a British engineer they may have said "well bugger me - that looks damn odd".

Is this one of the installations where (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46380293)

Is this one of the installations where they discovered Muslims acting suspiciously? I think they should check the cause of the crack carefully
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?