Wild Border Watersheds

Inadequate design blamed for failure of Mount Polley tailings dam: panel (Vancouver Sun)

An engineering panel appointed by the B.C. government has concluded the dominant factor in the breach of the Mount Polley taiings dam was a failure in the dam's foundation.

That failure resides in the design which did not account for presence of glacial lake deposit in foundation, says the panel.

“The omissions associated with site characterization (of the glacial lake desposit) may be likened to creating a loaded gun,” said panel chair Norbert Morgenstern, a University of Alberta professor emeritus.

“But if constructing unknowingly on the upper (glacial lake) deposit constituted loading the gun, building on the steep slope... pulled the trigger. The two things together constitute the root cause of the failure,” Morgenstern said at a news conference in Victoria to release the report.

“Basically the weight of the dam was too much for the weak material and foundation to bear,” said panel member Steve Vick, a U.S. geotechnical engineering consultant.

(To read complete source article, click "Vancouver Sun")

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