Revision to CDA Dam Safety Guidelines: Environmental Consequence Classification Procedures for Mining Dams (Draft)
Lee Nikl, M.Sc., R.P.Bio. - Principal/Senior Environmental Scientist, Golder Associates Ltd.
The environmental consequences of dam failures has received considerable global attention in recent times. To help inform the design criteria, frequency of monitoring and inspections, requirements for emergency preparedness plans/emergency response plans, and other operational considerations, the Canadian Dam Association (CDA) uses a dam failure consequence classification system.
The environmental component of the existing consequence classification system lacks a clear scientific basis and uses vaguely defined classification criteria. A proposed new science-based system that addresses these shortcomings has been developed by a Working Group of the CDA Mining Dams Committee. The proposed environmental classification system, which is structured around habitat loss for species of special interest has been beta-tested using a recent dam failure (positive control) and an existing dam (test scenario) with favorable results in terms of classification and level of inquiry.
Lee Nikl is a Principal and Senior Environmental Scientist with Golder Associates’ Mine Environment Division. He is a Registered Professional Biologist (R.P.Bio.) with over 29 years of professional experience.
Lee has been involved in some of the most significant damage assessment and rehabilitation projects in Canada and internationally, such as the Mount Polley and Samarco tailings dam failures in British Columbia, Canada and Minas Gerais, Brazil where he led Golder’s technical program to assess chemical and physical impacts of the failures and to rehabilitate the physical environment. In the Kingdom of Jordan, Lee led an ecological damage assessment of the 1990 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in support of a claim against the Republic of Iraq.
Other projects he has been involved with included the Wabamun Lake, AB oil spill, Pembina Pipelines oil spill at Chetwynd, BC, a mercury spill in the Peruvian Andes, Burrard Inlet oil spill and numerous other chemical spills and fish kills. Lee is currently the chair of the Mine Dam Failure Environmental Consequences working group for the Canadian Dam Association (Mining Dams Committee).