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Economic and dam related articles

Safe Enough at Dams

by Staff
Tri-City Herald, August 11, 2003

Education is the best way to show people the important role that dams play in the Mid-Columbia.

That's why it is encouraging to hear the Walla Walla District commander for the Army Corps of Engineers say he is considering reopening the visitor center at the dam closest to the Tri-Cities -- Ice Harbor.

The center, located on the dam, closed after Sept. 11 for security reasons.

No one advocates taking the threat of terrorism lightly, but at the same time precautions must be reasonable. Barring a sixth-grader who is working on a school report from visiting the dam does nothing to further the interest of national security.

Provided that the district commander, Lt. Col. Ed Kertis, can ensure that those kinds of visitors have access while the dams remain defended against those who would act maliciously, he is right to proceed with giving taxpayers a closer look at their investment.

The Corps seems to be trying to apply some common sense to security precautions.

Last year, Lucky Peak Dam near Boise (which is of a different type of construction than the dams we in the Mid-Columbia are familiar with) was reopened after the Corps assessed the likelihood of a threat and tallied possible losses. It concluded that the dam would be able to withstand even the worst-case attack when the reservoir behind drops to certain levels. The dam now opens to visitors when the pool reaches those levels.

It's good to see the Corps applying its technical expertise to the question of just how secure is safe enough.

Related Pages:
Idaho Power Halts Tours of Facilities Idaho Statesman, 5/30/3
Bush to Pay Visit to Snake Dam The Idaho Statesman, 8/21/3

Safe Enough at Dams
Tri-City Herald, August 11, 2003

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