Dams are massively essential structures in modern-day society that perform multiple crucial tasks. Despite being a marvel of modern engineering, these dams also suffer through the passage of time and become a high-risk hazard. That’s why we have listed some of the most dangerous dams around the world.
In general, Dams store water for emergencies and irrigate food crops for 12-15% of the world’s population. They also generate 16% of the world’s electricity and control flooding in heavy rainfall regions. However, many dams around the world are quite dangerous regardless of their importance.
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The Most Dangerous Dams In The World
Lake Dunlap Dam, Texas
One of the most recent Dam failures occurred at Lake Dunlap Dam in Texas, United States. The 91-year-old dam experienced a spill gate failure, nearly draining the entire lake by the day’s end. This failure caused a significant quantity of water to run downstream, leading to a severe drop of 3m in the lake’s water levels.
Kariba Dam, Zimbabwe
The Kariba Dam was constructed in the 1950s, and the passage of time has not been kind to it either. The dam’s structures have grown old, making it relatively weak. In the past, rising water levels required the evacuation of 130,000 people who lived in the floodplain. However, recent reports suggest that rehabilitation work for the dam has been underway since 2017.
Yellow River Xiaolangdi Dam, China
Xiaolangdi Dam is situated in Jiyuan, Henan Province in China, and was constructed to control floods and reduce sedimentation in the Yellow river. However, the dam’s lifespan is at risk due to the high silt load in the river, making it one of the most dangerous dams in the country.
The Yellow River is often called the “River of Disasters” and is famous for causing unpredictable and disastrous floods. The dam water mixed with sediment has become a significant cause of pollution in the basin. Latest climate models also suggest rainfall in the Yellow River Basin will increase up to 30% this century.
Isabella Dam, California
The main reason why the Isabella dam is a high-risk hazard is due to its age and location. This 70-year-old dam is constructed on top of an earthquake fault, which places it at risk of failure due to earthquakes. The dam restricts the water flowing down the River Canyon into Bakersfield. A slight mishap could potentially cause a lot of water to flow downstream, making Bakersfield a dangerous zone.
Nurek Dam, Tajikistan
Once the tallest dam in the world, the Nurek dam can fulfill around 70 percent of Tajikistan’s electricity needs. Although it is not a massive cause for concern, it has made its way into the high-risk category: class four, making it one of the most dangerous dams in the world.
The country’s dependency on the dam worsens the projected damage in case of a malfunction. There was even an incident in late October 2016 when a temporary malfunction caused a massive blackout for three hours.
Sayano Shushenskaya Dam, Russia
The Sayano Shusheskaya Dam is infamous mainly due to the unfortunate flooding that caused irreparable damage to the dam. In 2009, a malfunction flooded the turbine hall collapsing the roof and destroying nine out of ten turbines.
This incident caused the deaths of 74 workers while one was found missing. It also caused a blackout in several residential areas. (later alleviated by diverting power from other plants). The accident also caused a 40-ton oil spill spread over 80 km downstream.
So these were some of the most dangerous dams around the world. Let us know what you think about these engineering marvels in the comment section below.