6 years ago

International Operating Engineer - Spring 2017

  • Text
  • Operating
  • Iuoe
  • Engineer
  • Engineers
  • Infrastructure
  • Spillway
The quarterly magazine of the International Union of Operating Engineers.


Feature THE PHOTOS DON’T do it justice. As crewmembers stand along California’s Oroville Dam – the largest earthen embankment dam in the United States – they look like fluorescent dots among the massive concrete of the dam and its spillway that dominates the Lake Oroville landscape. Built by Local 3 operators from 1961 to 1968, Oroville Dam rises an impressive 775 feet high, managing 3.5 million acre-feet of water. Yet, Mother Nature is often not so easily controlled. A Flood of Work Hundreds of operators answer the call for emergency repairs at Oroville Dam During routine use of the spillway on Feb. 7, the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) discovered erosion along the main flood control spillway and stopped the flow in order to investigate. But as substantial incoming storm runoff caused lake levels to rise, DWR decided to use the damaged spillway to manage lake levels. Despite their efforts, water eventually began to spill over the emergency spillway for the first time in the dam’s history. By Feb. 12, massive erosion on both spillways occurred, threatening to undermine and collapse the emergency spillway’s concrete weir, which could send a 30-foot wall of water cascading into the Feather River. Consequently, 180,000 people living downstream were forced to evacuate the area. Two days later, water levels at Lake Oroville had receded 13 feet below the crest of the emergency spillway, and DWR began seeking hundreds of emergency crews to provide spillway repair, erosion control and dredging along the diversion pool at the base of the spillway, which had filled with an estimated 1.7 million cubic yards of debris. While erosion control and dam/levee repair is not unusual for Operating Engineers at this time of year, emergency repairs of this size and scope are something not many have seen in their lifetimes. “I’ve worked many big jobs in my career, and I’ve never seen anything like this,” said Teichert Foreman Mike Anthony, a 27-year Local 3 member. He has joined more than 200 operators and hundreds of workers from other crafts working 24 hours a day, seven days a week on the emergency repairs. At the Yuba City District Hall, which is usually slow in the winter, dispatches have been off the charts, and one operator even flew in from Bangkok to catch part of the action. [right] Local 3 Operating Engineers go to work removing rock and debris from the Thermalito Diversion Pool below the damaged Oroville Dam spillway. 12 INTERNATIONAL OPERATING ENGINEER SPRING 2017 13

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