The Troubling Danger of Dams

The Troubling Danger of Dams

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Writing by Sam Denby and Tristan Purdy
Editing by Alexander Williard
Animation led by Max Moser
Sound by Graham Haerther
Thumbnail by Simon Buckmaster

Edenville Dam collapse video courtesy Lynn Coleman


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52 Responses

  1. Strykenine says:

    I have checked and double-checked and must tell you that dams are not, in fact, airplanes.

  2. Travis Jansma says:

    I work at 3 dams that are 100+ yrs old. This year we’ve spent $400,000 on maintenance. We just had our federal inspection and passed.

  3. KGB Major Valeri Petrofsky says:

    Tragic what happened to Libya in the weeks before, almost 30,000 people died from floods and it’s just heartbreaking

  4. TayZonday says:

    Ninety-one-THOUSAND? Damn, that’s a lot of dams! 😳🤯😮

  5. Marc o'polo says:

    If you want to learn more about dam failure I highly recommend Pratical Engineering. he’s got a bunch of videos on dams, and dams / critical infrastructure failure. The culprits are too often the same: maintenance budget cuts and inaction.

    • CandledApple says:

      Was gonna say, I’ve already learned to be wary of dams from Practical Engineering 😅

    • Enisra Bowman says:

      @CandledApple the B1M also made a Video about a replacement of a dam in switzerland
      It’s a different angle but still quite interesting

    • Hannes Willén says:

      I also recommend the “Well theres your problem”-podcast that have a couple of excelent episodes here on YT on dam failures.

    • Bibliloo says:

      And he did a (2 part?) Video about the Orville Dam, how it happened and what was done after the incident.

    • Chad Neu says:

      The movie Damnation also takes a deep look at the history of dams and the issues going forward with them, also the hypocrisy surrounding their uses. It’s a bit dramatized so be aware of that, but it talks about the issues with dams like few other sources do.

      For instance, Damnation says there are over 200,000 dams in the united states which is a bit high. But this video we’re watching now says 91,000. This difference is based on what you define as a dam. The number is likely somewhere in the 150,000 range if you include all the seasonal dams.

  6. Kevin Luo says:

    As a dam ages, it incurs damages.

  7. Nautica says:

    That edenville dam was less that 2 miles away from my Uncle’s house, but thankfully they were uphill and didn’t get flooded. The more worrying part was that it flooded the local chemical plant, which possibly lead to contamination down river

  8. H T says:

    As a child in the 30s, my mother lived in a workers cottage on a floodplain. Twice a year they moved the furniture upstairs, watched the water wash in. Then cleaned the mud out and got on with life. In their retirement, my parents lived in a house half way up a mountain, 1000ft above the nearest river. Her priorities were absolute. I learned a lot from my mum

    • GoogleMinus says:

      My dad’s house flooded several times and my mom’s house floated away in a flood. I bought a house on top of a mountain, 800ft above the Potomac river. Funny similarity!

    • B Case says:

      Areas below dams should be deemed areas not to allow new construction nor remodeling. Insurance rates will then move more people out of that location.

    • Joe Sterling says:

      Yeah. Live and learn. No one should live on a flood plain.

      If you’re in earnest, you must be about my mother’s age. Still alive and kicking.

    • Chiquita says:

      Not possible because there wasn’t human made climate change in the 1930s. It happened in the last 30 years, she probably misremembered

    • dirt007 says:

      ​@bcase5328 unfortunately people like living by water.

  9. Bernardo Kerr says:

    We also had 2 recent tragic damn incidents in the state of Minas Gerais, Brazil. Hundreds dead and thousands impacted. Mining companies seem to be finally changing their policies to do better risk mitigation

    • MrP says:

      Sad to hear this. I lived in MG for two years back in the mid 90s.

    • Noah says:

      I was a junior engineer helping with a study on the failure of the Fundao Dam collapse. That tragedy, and the more recent Brumadinho failure were both caused by static liquefaction – same as Edenville in the video.

      The mining company at the time was warned that their dams were insufficient, but chose not to do anything…

      After those tragedies, along with the Mount Polly failure in Canada, the industry is starting to care much more about managing the risk associated with these dams. One company I’ve worked with has committed over $500 million to improve just one of their dams after we outlined the current risks of their facility. Sums of money like this would’ve never been spent just a few years ago.

  10. Inspector Tea says:

    honestly, as a dutchman, any piece of critical water-management infrastructure being privately owned is absolutely insane to me. Like these companies have no incentive to care about public safety, so handing them such a responsibility seems like one of the dumbest things you could do.

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