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Independent Forensic Team Report Oroville Dam Spillway Analysis

We just read the Appendix F From 2018 Independent Forensic Team Report Oroville Dam Spillway Analysis. So, we decided to discuss a few points from our risk perspective. It was a joy to read the statements the Independent Forensic Team made on “normalization of deviance” and the disproportionate influence some experts may exert on group deliberations. Indeed a Potential Failure Modes Analysis (PFMA) team generally includes various members bringing diverse perspectives into the process. Oftentimes one or two strongly opinionated persons,…

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Data in probabilities assessment

Data in probabilities assessment constitute an everyday conundrum. The key question is what constitutes essential (understood as basic, indispensable) and ideal (understood as “perfect”) data set. There is no “simple” answer to that question. Consider that we often deal with prototypes or new facilities before commissioning. Past performances may not reflect future behavior because of system or climatic changes. Indeed, any internal or external change to the system has the potential to prove assumptions wrong. In particular, that past experiences…

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Tailings dam failure at the Cadia-Ridgeway Mine in Australia

We learned last week about a tailings dam failure at the Cadia-Ridgeway Mine in Australia. We are going to discuss a few points we know as they relate to Tailings Dams Risk Management. What we know about the tailings dam failure at the Cadia-Ridgeway Mine in Australia In the late afternoon of Friday March 9th , Cadia identified a limited breakthrough of tailings material at its northern tailings dam embankment as shown in the press release they produced. This tailings…

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Geoethics, Theory of General Ethics and Risk Management

Is it possible to link Geoethics, Theory of General Ethics and Risk Management to add value to our efforts? How can we integrate a risk assessment in ethics? What qualities should a risk assessment method possess to support ethical projects and endeavours? Kim Williams, a good friends of mine, let me a wonderful book by Warwick Fox entitled A Theory of General Ethics, Human Relationships, Nature, and the Built Environment (2006). The book is not easy to read. I was…

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Oroville Dam Spillway Incident Report

The Oroville Dam Spillway Incident Report became public in January 2018. The story it tells is remarkably similar to the one we assumed, based on publicly available information in the aftermath of the accident. As risk advisers and managers we discuss below the various statements in the Oroville Dam Spillway Incident Report. We aim at highlighting risk biases and potential management changes to avoid similar developments. Oroville Dam Spillway Incident Report Conclusions Commented The Independent Forensic Team Report made a number…

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Unrealistic risk assessment describing a rosy scenario

Keystone pipeline has spilled substantially more oil, and more often, than indicated in the risk assessments the company provided to regulators. But why and how a common risk assessment becomes an unrealistic risk assessment describing a rosy scenario? Indeed what regulators saw in the pre-construction project risk assessment was reportedly the following. “A spill of more than 50 barrels will occur “ not more than once every seven to 11 years over the entire length of the pipeline in the…

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Bringing value to projects and operations

Bringing value to projects and operations is a goal that many pursue. Today we will discuss reliability enhancements as a possible way to add value. What is reliability? Engineers generally define Reliability as the quality of being trustworthy or of performing consistently well. Example: “the conveyor performance history gives me every confidence in its reliability” which basically means “I am not expecting a major failure”. So, in other words, if you get in your car, turn the ignition and the…

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Catastrophic dam failures path forward at Tailings and Mine Waste

The keynote lecture Catastrophic dam failures path forward at Tailings and Mine Waste Conference was an enlightening speech. Henry Brehaut corroborated the views Riskope have expressed over the last decade. The validity of our methodological developments is confirmed once again. We are pleased to comment and express some impressions from the keynote lecture. The message Henry Brehaut delivered includes looking at: getting things right, looking at details, identifying gaps and hidden flaws. Finally, reactive catastrophic failure analysis is not the optimum…

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