2015 – Overcoring and Extraction of Post-Tensioned Anchors on Two Dams: Unparalleled Anchor Condition Assessment

Chris Topham, Andrew Pattle, David Tanner, Oliver Giudici

Many owners around the world have dams that rely on grouted, post-tensioned rock anchors for stability. The anchors were installed during the original construction of the dams or retrofitted to improve stability during their operational life. The use of fully grouted post-tensioned anchors spanned the period of the 1960’s to 1980’s. The main issue with these un-sheathed grouted rock anchors is the question of integrity of the grout column protecting the anchor and concerns about possible corrosion of the high tensile wires from which the cables are constructed. While some of these anchors have corrosion monitoring systems installed, it is difficult to validate such data and there is considerable uncertainty over the condition of such anchors. To compound the problem, replacement of the anchors is technically complex, extremely costly and difficult to justify in the absence of known condition. For example, Hydro Tasmania has recent experience of work to cease reliance on such anchors at Catagunya Dam that cost $41m in 2009. With fifteen dams relying on some form of post-tensioned anchors, Hydro Tasmania has recently taken the unusual step of over-coring and extracting three post-tensioned rock anchors from operating dams in order to assess their condition. In what is believed to be a world first, a 42m long 70 strand high tensile anchor was overcored and removed from Meadowbank Dam in 2014. A further two anchors were successfully extracted from Repulse Dam in 2015, in conjunction with a group of international sponsors with similar anchors. This paper uses the 2015 work to illustrate the methodology used to extract the anchors, outlines the information gained from this unusual work, and presents the results of the condition of the extracted anchors. The paper concludes with some inferences for other owners with similar anchors and suggestions for further work.
Keywords: Grouted, post-tensioned rock anchor, ground anchor, corrosion, over-coring, extraction, dam safety.

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