Texas Dam Safety Inspections at Issue

The www.damsafetyaction.org Texas news section includes mention of a Wall Street Journal article about an important issue that should worry many Texans. A little background: Texas updated and improved its dam safety regulations a few years ago to include a requirement for Emergency Action Plans for High-Hazard Potential (HHP) and Significant-Hazard Potential (SHP) dams, where failure would likely result in the death of people.

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The Risk from Unknown Dams

Missouri recently had a situation that dam safety officials say is all too common. As reported in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, residents of 40 homes near a dam in suburban Jefferson County were under voluntary evacuation (along with moving out cattle and horses down-stream) when an earthen dam was determined to be failing.

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Coal Tailings Dams Back in the News

The national focus and concern about coal tailings dams had settled down in the last couple of years. These reservoirs of coal ash sludge were big news in December 2008 when the dam for a large one burst near Kingston, Tenn. It sent a wave of toxic sludge into a community and stream, inundating the immediate landscape and fouling surface water with 5 million cubic yards of contaminated waste. Since February the risks associated with the ponds have been back in headlines and television news reports, though not because of a dam breach.
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