Letters: Dam failure

Letter writer thinks Jordan River dam is very much at risk

Rodney Nyberg incorrectly jumps to the conclusion that I said he was dense, whereas I was talking about BC Hydro – who sometimes get off track or don’t communicate well.

BC Hydro say the Jordan River Diversion dam provides a substantial proportion of the power generated on Vancouver Island, but 80 per cent of our supply comes from the B.C. mainland via undersea cables. BC Hydro wants to purchase several homes to clear the flood risk area so they can continue to produce power from the dam in question without replacing it, I questioned where we’d get power from after a huge earthquake, BC Hydro’s FAQ infers from natural gas, though I am not aware of plans to build a plant. I suggest keeping a safe heater with a stock of Vancouver Island coal.

I did criticize Nyberg’s conspiracy theory about BC Hydro’s motives, recommending he choose the simpler possibility – that’s what the Occam’s Razor principle advises.

His claim about the dam withstanding the earthquake he lived through does not make sense in the context of BC Hydro’s concern about an earthquake of 8 or 9 magnitude – a thousand times stronger than the worst anywhere near Jordan River since the dam was built.

Nyberg seems fatalistic, but damage factors include the structure and the soil. Wood frame houses are relatively resistant, whereas old multi-story masonry buildings and edifices like old legislative buildings are fragile. He should check his location against the B.C. government’s map of risk including liquifaction of some soils. Indeed, the limited damage from recent earthquakes in the Seattle area occurred where one of those factors existed.

Dam failure releases a huge quantity of water that will wipe out much in its path, Nyberg should check where he is relative to that. If he’s high and dry on solid ground why does he think he’d be bad off? If he is in the flood plain he has a choice in theory, as did the hermit who refused to move out of the way of the inevitable explosion of Mt. St. Helens, though the probability of a major earthquake in Nyberg’s lifetime is small.

But I doubt BC Hydro or governments want to take the legal risk and bad PR of a death.

Keith Sketchley

Saanich