THIS JUST IN … ASDSO and USSD comments on current state of Oroville Spillway incident investigation
The Association of State Dam Safety Officials (ASDSO) and the United States Society on Dams (USSD) are nationally and internationally recognized organizations consisting of dam engineering professionals who are committed to advancing the profession of dam engineering and dam safety. On behalf of the U.S. and international profession and in a spirit of cooperation and support, the ASDSO and USSD leadership created a joint volunteer task group to perform an international search for and selection of the members of the Oroville Spillway Incident Forensic Investigation Team.
It is important to emphasize that 1) ASDSO and USSD contacted the California Department of Water Resources (CA DWR) to offer this assistance; and 2) the team of forensic experts was chosen by the joint organizational task group not only for its expertise but also for its independence. The Investigation Team is tasked with fully examining all aspects of the spillway incident and offering expert views to both the public and to stakeholders without direction from DWR or other parties of interest. Pertinent data is being provided to the Investigation Team and is currently under review by the team.
The ASDSO and USSD joint organizational task group emphasizes the need for a comprehensive, independent investigation to ensure that the possible causes of the incident are evaluated based on the most accurate and complete information available. The Investigation Team is composed of recognized experts with broad experience in the analysis, design, construction and operation of dams and appurtenant water infrastructure. This includes two members selected for their expertise in how human and organizational factors may contribute to dam safety incidents. These factors are a critical part of the investigation and will be addressed in the Investigation Team’s final report, which should be complete this fall.
Leading the human and organizational factors investigation are Irfan Alvi and Stephen Rigbey. Alvi has served on an ASDSO committee where he has focused on human factors while helping to develop protocols for investigating dam failures and incidents. Rigbey is the director of Dam Safety for BC Hydro and is highly experienced in the organizational aspects of a dam safety program. The other Investigation Team members are experts in the fields of geotechnical engineering, hydraulics, hydraulic structures and engineering geology.
It is important that the team is given the necessary time needed and the patience of all stakeholders to do a thorough investigation. The investigation is in the early stages and much work remains to be done before the investigation is complete. Normally, preliminary findings would not be released before the completion of the final report; however, the team recognizes that implementation of repairs must move forward immediately. The preliminary memorandum released in early May was not intended to serve as a report but rather a list of possible candidate physical factors that may have contributed to the spillway incident, so that these factors could be appropriately considered in the design and construction of the repairs. The team does not expect that all candidate physical factors will ultimately be found to have contributed to the incident, but, while the investigation proceeds, it is prudent for these factors to be considered in the implementation of current repairs.
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