dam disaster

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March 11th 1864: The Great Sheffield Flood

On this day in 1864, the Dale Dyke Dam in Sheffield broke, causing one of the largest floods in English history. 650 million gallons of water swept down Loxley Valley and through areas of Sheffield. The flood destroyed 800 homes and killed around 293 people, thus making it the largest man-made disaster to befall England, and one of the deadliest floods in history. Individual stories from the disaster are particularly tragic. For example, Joseph Dawson found the currents too strong and was unable to save both his wife and two day old baby boy - the Dawsons’ unnamed child became the first victim of the floods. The destruction afterwards led one observer to remark that Sheffield was “looking like a battlefield.” While this tragedy is often forgotten in English history, many Sheffielders take this day to remember what once happened to their city.

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history meme — italian version // four natural disasters: vajont dam disaster

When built, the Vajont dam was the tallest of its kind in the world, harnessing the waters of a small mountain torrent to create a lake meant to generate hydroelectric power for northern Italy’s postwar economic miracle. But the engineers and geologists had ignored the warnings of locals that the land was unstable and that their work had triggered worrying seismic movements.

Late on the evening of 9 October 1963, a vast chunk of the mountainside, the size of a small town and 400m (1,312ft) deep, sheared off.

Forty-five seconds later, travelling at 100km/h (62mph), it plunged into the new artificial lake, creating an inland tsunami that rose more than 200m above the dam before plunging headlong towards Longarone, directly in its path.

The wall of water pushed an air pocket before it. It was more powerful than the Hiroshima bomb. So strong, in fact, that almost all the victims were found naked, their clothes blown off by the blast.

The dam survived but 80% of the inhabitants of Longarone and its satellite villages did not. In all, almost 2,000 people are known to have died - but the final death toll will never be known. (x)

  • usa back in ye olden days: okay dams are really dangerous right... they have the potential to wipe out cities and everyone in them right
  • usa back in ye olden days: ok so like.. lets at least try a little bit to put dams you know not by.. cities because we don't want another johnstown dam disaster.
  • usa today: yeah thats all cool but like its cheaper to build under dams ... especially at risk dams..
  • usa today: so like i mean sucks to suck am i right hahaha.
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The Unforgettable Calamity – 40th Anniversary of the Teton Dam Failure

“As I sit here and watch I can see it caving in. It is just coming apart, completely coming apart… my advice to people downstream that are living along the Teton River, get your belongings, get your belongings. Don’t push your luck. Look, look, there goes the whole side, there goes whole complete side of the north edge of the Teton Dam and the water is monumental – holy – great – what can I say? People downstream better get out…”

From this transcript of a live broadcast aired on Rexburg Idaho’s KRXK radio station one is jolted back 40 years to June 5, 1976, when correspondent Don Ellis watched as the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s nearly 75 year run of successful dam building crumbled before his very eyes. Years of panels, inquiries, investigations, and on-site excavations all worked to pinpoint the exact cause of the Teton Dam failure, to no definite end, but the hundreds of millions of dollars of property damage and 11 deaths attributed to the disaster remain undisputed. The story, from beginning to the tragic ending, can be found in the National Archives at Denver’s Record Group 115 Records of the Bureau of Reclamation holdings.

Construction of the dam had been authorized by Congress 12 years earlier on September 7, 1964. Planned on the Teton River, a tributary of Henry’s Fork of the Snake River in southeastern Idaho, the earth-filled embankment dam and reservoir were to be the main features of the Teton Basin Project, designed for flood control, power generation, and supplemental irrigation for nearby farmland in the upper Snake River Valley. The contract for construction was awarded December 13, 1971, and despite pending environmental lawsuits (which were eventually dismissed) work commenced in February of the following year.

All phases of the dam specifications were scheduled to be completed in May 1977 but by October 1975 the embankment was essentially finished. Workers then began the slow process of filling the reservoir.

Bureau of Reclamation memoranda book compiling the Teton Dam Reservoir level and capacity, the last entry being the day of the failure (NAID 2199668)

In the early morning of June 5, 1976, workers discovered two leaks in quick succession within the wall of rock that served as the dam abutment on the right side. Noted as no cause for concern, it wasn’t until a wet spot on the dam wall itself was discovered around 9:00 a.m. that serious alarms were raised. Quickly turning into a mud stream, by 10:30 a.m. it was flowing to the point that witnesses reported the leak sounding like a waterfall. Jerry Dursteller, an employee of the Gibbons and Reed Company which had been contracted to build the dam’s feeder pipeline and pump canal, arrived on scene at 10:00 a.m. and immediately began taking photographs. His collection of images, seen in whole within our collection, show the worsening of the leak.

Dursteller ran out of film at 11:50 a.m. and his last picture shows the gaping hole reaching the crest of the dam. On the reservoir side witnesses reported a small two foot diameter whirlpool had grown quickly to 20 feet in diameter, indicating an increasing volume of water leaking through the dam. A warning from project officials to local sheriff’s offices was soon elevated from ‘Prepare for Flooding’ to ‘Evacuate Everyone Downstream’ as there was nothing left to do, the dam was going to fail. At 11:57 over 250,000 acre feet of reservoir water, equivalent to 81.5 billion gallons, broke through the Teton Dam and rushed downstream.

Keep reading at: The Unforgettable Calamity – 40th Anniversary of the Teton Dam Failure | The Text Message

reuters.com
Brazil mining flood could devastate environment for years
The collapse of two dams at a Brazilian mine has cut off drinking water for quarter of a million people and saturated waterways downstream with dense orange sediment that could wreck the ecosystem for years to come.

General view from above of a dam owned by Vale SA and BHP Billiton Ltd that burst, in Mariana, Brazil, November 10, 2015.  

The collapse of two dams at a Brazilian mine has cut off drinking water for quarter of a million people and saturated waterways downstream with dense orange sediment that could wreck the ecosystem for years to come.

Nine people were killed, 19 are still listed as missing and 500 people were displaced from their homes when the dams burst at an iron ore mine in southeastern Brazil on Nov. 5.

The sheer volume of water disgorged by the dams and laden with mineral waste across nearly 500 km is staggering: 60 million cubic meters, the equivalent of 25,000 Olympic swimming pools or the volume carried by about 187 oil tankers.

President Dilma Rousseff compared the damage to the 2010 oil spill by BP PLC in the Gulf of Mexico and Environment Minister Izabella Teixeira called it an “environmental catastrophe.”

Scientists say the sediment, which may contain chemicals used by the mine to reduce iron ore impurities, could alter the course of streams as they harden, reduce oxygen levels in the water and diminish the fertility of riverbanks and farmland where floodwater passed.

Samarco Mineração SA, a joint venture between mining giants Vale SA and BHP Billiton and owner of the mine, has repeatedly said the mud is not toxic.

But biologists and environmental experts disagree. Local authorities have ordered families rescued from the flood to wash thoroughly and dispose of clothes that came in contact with the mud.

“It’s already clear wildlife is being killed by this mud,” said Klemens Laschesfki, professor of geosciences at the Federal University of Minas Gerais. “To say the mud is not a health risk is overly simplistic.”

As the heavy mud hardens, Laschesfki says, it will make farming difficult. And so much silt will settle along the bottom of the Rio Doce and the tributaries that carried the mud there that the very course of watershed could change.  

“Many regions will never be the same,” he says.

Researchers are testing the river water and results should be published over the coming weeks, giving a better idea of the contents of the mining waste.

One cause for concern is that compounds known as ether amines could have been used at the mine to separate silica from the iron ore, in order to produce a better quality product.

According to mining industry research and scientific literature published in recent years, the compounds are commonly used at Brazilian mines, including Samarco’s.

At least some of the compounds, according to the website of Air Products, a company that produces them, “are not readily biodegradable and have high toxicity to aquatic organisms.” They can also raise PH levels to a point that is environmentally harmful.

“There will be serious problems using the water from the river now,” says Pedro Antonio Molinas, a water resources engineer and mining industry consultant familiar with the region.

Samarco did not respond to questions about whether it used the compounds or whether they were in the so-called tailings pond whose contents burst through the broken dams. 

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my hands are too small to hold
infatuation. my hands,
calloused, bloody - fisted in gold
grasp for air.

you see,
my mother told me about her loves,
her 12 first kisses,
told me of heart pumping, sweating palms of disaster the night before.
but,
my lungs never breathed the smoky lust, nor the dusky stutters. my body does not want another body. it does not crave it’s messy beginning.

I sit here, teetering on loneliness and independence. I sit here, in limbo of girls who don’t cry and boys who love too much.

some say it’s an ocean, a kiss, a longing home. I say it’s my death, autopsy report be dammed, sliced love, serotonin disaster of guts spilled all over my fingers.

you see,
little girls with wet lips, kiss and hope it sticks. my heart is sore from waiting for a beat.
look at the fist,
golden covered palms.
foreign Loves and their 12 first kisses.

—  silent girls with silent hearts // e.k.c