When the Georgia Geo-Institute Chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) gathers for its January 2020 meeting, Geosyntec’s Dr. Robert Bachus, P.E., D.GE (Georgia) will be the headline presenter. Bachus will deliver a talk on “Dam Failures: Recent Experience with Mine Tailings and Coal Ash Impoundments” at the January 21 event in Atlanta.

Bachus is a well-known figure in the geotechnical field, particularly in containment applications and notably with coal combustion residuals. He’s also an engineer who isn’t shy about provoking an audience and doing so with strong engineering cases. For those able to attend, it is recommended.

The lecture is part of the Geo-Institute’s Cross-USA Lecture Tour.

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In the event’s lecture abstract, posted on the registration page, Bachus writes:

The accident at the TVA Kingston Fossil Plant in 2008 had a revolutionary impact on the coal-powered energy generation community. Essentially, the most common coal ash disposal practices in the southeastern U.S. will no longer be permitted and former ash disposal facilities have been ordered to close… at considerable expense and utilization of resources. Coal ash (also referenced as coal ash residuals or CCRs) at the Kingston facility were managed in a dredge cell that was constructed as a tailings dam using upstream construction practices. Forensic investigations led to numerous potential explanations for the failure, but some of these explanations suggest that the failure could have been prevented. Fast forward several years and two catastrophic dam failures in Brazil, specifically the Fundão Dam (2015) and the Brumadinho Dam (2019). Forensic investigation suggest that these failures could have been avoided. … One problem with this challenge relates to the sheer numbers of tailings dams across the globe and the critical need to understand the current state of stability of these facilities.

Bachus will describe recent experiences regarding major dam failures of the past 10 – 15 years and discuss the various activities that are underway to assess the current stability of installations. He will also offer “go-forward actions” regarding the fate of existing and future tailings dams.

Inside a A 24/7 monitoring station that was set up by the Samarco Mine after its 5 November 2015 tailings dam failure. It was not the last significant dam failure in Brazil.

The Georgia Section of ASCE is a professional organization that strives to provide essential value to its members and partners, which includes supporting and promoting Georgia Civil Engineers and providing training and networking opportunities. Its members also strive to advance public knowledge of civil engineering and serve the public good.

Learn more about the Geo-Institute online.