The drama at Oroville Dam is a good example of the dangers of trying to do things on the cheap. In 2005, environmental groups warned federal regulators that the earthen spillway of the dam should have been armored in concrete to prevent erosion and exactly the kind of crises that officials have been scrambling to control since the giant lake began to overflow over the weekend.
Now, however, officials operating the dam have scrambled not only to repair ruptures in the spillway, but decided to evacuate some 200,000 people downstream of the dam from their homes — a huge decision.
As it turned out, that decision could have been put off because the repairs on the dam worked and the people who were evacuated really didn’t have to leave their homes.
Still, hindsight is always clearer than foresight, and if one looks at what could have happened to those people if the spillway fixes hadn’t worked and if the spillway had ruptured further, they would have suffered more than the inconvenience of a couple of days as refugees, sleeping in churches and the homes of friends and relatives.
When dealing with massive flows of water, safety is paramount. And so is security.
Dams are sitting ducks for terrorists who might have it in their minds to blow up a dam in an effort to create mayhem.
If you travel to Friant Dam, you will notice that it has been fenced off to keep people away from the dam face, and it is also carefully patrolled. It isn’t entirely secure, but it would be harder to destroy than if nothing had been done.
Water spilling over the top of the dam is a beautiful sight, but it also is a reminder of how much power is behind it and how much wreckage it would produce if the dam were to fail for any reason.
Now it appears repairs to the Oroville dam will cost some $200 million, an amount that could have been much smaller if warnings had been heeded 12 years ago.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s proclivity for playing with missiles could one day become too much of a threat for the west to suffer, and could breed retaliation from the U.S.
Kim must know that, and seems to behave as though he is courting an attack by the United States to destroy his missile-building capabilities.
He must have a notion that he can continue this behavior as long as China remains his ally, but China may turn its back and let South Korea and/or the U.S. put an end to Kim’s pranks.
That’s because China has no need for North Korea as a buffer state between South Korea and its own border. In fact, China could take over North Korea and turn it into a colony without firing a shot.