Author Topic: "This dam is not going to collapse. Everything is going to be fine."  (Read 813 times)

Recusant

  • Miscreant Erendrake
  • Administrator
  • Wears a Colander Hat for Special Occasions
  • *****
  • Posts: 6121
  • Gender: Male
  • infidel barbarian
. . . Or maybe not. This is an article from The New Yorker, and like many of them, it's rather long. However, I thought it was interesting because it combines recent history, some geology, some engineering, and some disconcerting possibilities. I know that I wouldn't want to be downstream of the thing.

"A BIGGER PROBLEM THAN ISIS?" | The New Yorker

Quote


According to a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers assessment, “Mosul Dam is the most dangerous dam in the world.”
Photo Credit: Victor J. Blue/The New Yorker

On the morning of August 7, 2014, a team of fighters from the Islamic State, riding in pickup trucks and purloined American Humvees, swept out of the Iraqi village of Wana and headed for the Mosul Dam. Two months earlier, ISIS had captured Mosul, a city of nearly two million people, as part of a ruthless campaign to build a new caliphate in the Middle East. For an occupying force, the dam, twenty-five miles north of Mosul, was an appealing target: it regulates the flow of water to the city, and to millions of Iraqis who live along the Tigris. As the ISIS invaders approached, they could make out the dam’s four towers, standing over a wide, squat structure that looks like a brutalist mausoleum. Getting closer, they saw a retaining wall that spans the Tigris, rising three hundred and seventy feet from the riverbed and extending nearly two miles from embankment to embankment. Behind it, a reservoir eight miles long holds eleven billion cubic metres of water.

A group of Kurdish soldiers was stationed at the dam, and the ISIS fighters bombarded them from a distance and then moved in. When the battle was over, the area was nearly empty; most of the Iraqis who worked at the dam, a crew of nearly fifteen hundred, had fled. The fighters began to loot and destroy equipment. An ISIS propaganda video posted online shows a fighter carrying a flag across, and a man’s voice says, “The banner of unification flutters above the dam.”

The next day, Vice-President Joe Biden telephoned Masoud Barzani, the President of the Kurdish region, and urged him to retake the dam as quickly as possible. American officials feared that ISIS might try to blow it up, engulfing Mosul and a string of cities all the way to Baghdad in a colossal wave. Ten days later, after an intense struggle, Kurdish forces pushed out the ISIS fighters and took control of the dam.

But, in the months that followed, American officials inspected the dam and became concerned that it was on the brink of collapse. The problem wasn’t structural: the dam had been built to survive an aerial bombardment. (In fact, during the Gulf War, American jets bombed its generator, but the dam remained intact.) The problem, according to Azzam Alwash, an Iraqi-American civil engineer who has served as an adviser on the dam, is that “it’s just in the wrong place.” Completed in 1984, the dam sits on a foundation of soluble rock. To keep it stable, hundreds of employees have to work around the clock, pumping a cement mixture into the earth below. Without continuous maintenance, the rock beneath would wash away, causing the dam to sink and then break apart. But Iraq’s recent history has not been conducive to that kind of vigilance.

[Continues . . .]
"Religion is fundamentally opposed to everything I hold in veneration — courage, clear thinking, honesty, fairness, and above all, love of the truth."
— H. L. Mencken


Arturo

  • Do Something Crazy!
  • Has an Invisible Dragon in Their Garage
  • *****
  • Posts: 3023
  • Gender: Male
  • Atheist, Humanist, and Champion
    • Arturo The1  リ壱
Re: "This dam is not going to collapse. Everything is going to be fine."
« Reply #1 on: December 31, 2016, 07:04:38 AM »
Damn

     It's Okay To Say You're Welcome
     Just let people be themselves.
     Arturo The1  リ壱

Tom62

  • Global Moderator
  • Blessing Her Holy Hooves
  • *****
  • Posts: 4315
  • Gender: Male
Re: "This dam is not going to collapse. Everything is going to be fine."
« Reply #2 on: December 31, 2016, 07:57:08 AM »
^Exactly
The universe never did make sense; I suspect it was built on government contract.
Robert A. Heinlein

Tank

  • WTF!!
  • Administrator
  • Excellent and Indefatigable Guardian of Reason
  • *****
  • Posts: 30992
  • Gender: Male
Re: "This dam is not going to collapse. Everything is going to be fine."
« Reply #3 on: December 31, 2016, 09:17:52 AM »
Very interesting article. I learned quite a bit about dam construction and maintenance. And if you lived in Wanke you'd be a... well you can work that out for yourself. I wonder if one could take a bet on it collapsing?
If religions were TV channels atheism is turning the TV off.
“Religion is a culture of faith; science is a culture of doubt.” ― Richard P. Feynman
'It is said that your life flashes before your eyes just before you die. That is true, it's called Life.' - Terry Pratchett
Remember, your inability to grasp science is not a valid argument against it.

No one

  • Not Defeated by the Dark Night of the Soul
  • ****
  • Posts: 1642
Re: "This dam is not going to collapse. Everything is going to be fine."
« Reply #4 on: December 31, 2016, 09:36:28 AM »
Maybe expect a flood of wealth?

Dave

  • Formerly known as Gloucester
  • Don't Pray in My School, and I Won't Think in Your Church
  • *****
  • Posts: 7105
  • Gender: Male
Re: "This dam is not going to collapse. Everything is going to be fine."
« Reply #5 on: December 31, 2016, 01:12:28 PM »
I remember hearing about this when it was first on the news. Nothing then about the poor geology, just Daesh trying yo blow it and what subsequent damage would result - immediately and in terms of future agricultural viability.

Water is going to be an increasing cause of conflict, the use of the River Jordan has already caused political arguments. The loss of Mosul dam could cause Iraq internal conflict. It is, basically, only a nation because the English and French forced it to be do. There is posdibky still a degree of clan, tribal and city rivalry, partly due to sectarianism I think, in non-Kurdish Iraq.

With no back-up and regulation, in terms of actual flow and/or strict official control, the downstream communities may not get as much as they need.
Tomorrow is precious, don't ruin it by fouling up today.
Passed Monday 10th Dec 2018 age 74

Bad Penny II

  • Doesn't Believe the Universe Was Made for Them
  • ****
  • Posts: 1353
  • Nice Borderline Troll
Re: "This dam is not going to collapse. Everything is going to be fine."
« Reply #6 on: December 31, 2016, 01:35:09 PM »
There is Posdibky still a degree of clan, tribal and city rivalry, partly due to sectarianism I think, in non-Kurdish Iraq.

Ye, call be an optimist with the implerted disconnect from reality but I think Posdibky can make a difference.
I know I'll sleep easier knowing he's on the job.  It's better he is free to do and didn't get the Sec Gen gig.
« Last Edit: December 31, 2016, 01:46:18 PM by Bad Penny II »
Certainty disturbs me


Dave

  • Formerly known as Gloucester
  • Don't Pray in My School, and I Won't Think in Your Church
  • *****
  • Posts: 7105
  • Gender: Male
Re: "This dam is not going to collapse. Everything is going to be fine."
« Reply #7 on: December 31, 2016, 01:43:34 PM »
There is Posdibky still a degree of clan, tribal and city rivalry, partly due to sectarianism I think, in non-Kurdish Iraq.

Ye, call be an optimist with the implerted disconnect from reality but I think Posdibky can make a difference.
I know I'll sleep easier knowing he's on the job.

Dam(n)

Thought I had caught all the typos - hate on screen keyboards, but also lazy!
Tomorrow is precious, don't ruin it by fouling up today.
Passed Monday 10th Dec 2018 age 74