2008 – Risk assessment with uncertainty analysis for an already-initiated failure mode

David S Bowles, Sanjay S Chauhan, Loren R Anderson, Terry F Glover

Abstract: A nested model is presented for considering variability and knowledge uncertainty in a dam safety risk assessment of an existing dam and interim risk-reduction alternatives (operating restrictions) during the staged implementation of a permanent structural risk reduction measure. The effects of some important aspects of natural variabilities on estimated risks are represented as cumulative distributions of probability of failure, annualised life loss, economic risk cost, and an F-N representation of life loss. Many cumulative distributions are generated to represent the effects of some important aspects of knowledge uncertainties.

An important aspect of the knowledge uncertainty is the current level of development of an already-initiated piping failure mode. Also, an approach to conditioning the system response probabilities (SRPs) for the piping failure mode on the duration of reservoir pool exceedance is included in the failure event tree risk model.

ANCOLD and Reclamation tolerable risk guidelines are evaluated at selected percentiles of variability and percentiles (levels of confidence) of knowledge uncertainty. The incremental cost-per-statistical-life saved and benefit-cost ratio for interim risk-reduction alternatives are estimated and evaluated to examine the case for more-severe levels of operating restriction than the least-severe operating restriction that is estimated to satisfy, at a selected percentile of variability and a desired level of confidence, the limit values in all of the tolerable risk guidelines that were considered.

Keywords: Dam safety, risk analysis, risk assessment, uncertainty analysis, aleatory uncertainty, epistemic uncertainty.

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