Friday, August 30, 2013

How Realistic & Affordable Are Some Standards?

Worth repeating. This article appeared earlier this year and the points raised still need addressing.

When Do Common Sense Safety Concerns
Become Ridiculous, Absurd, Ludicrous, Preposterous?

I realize that when an engineer is tasked with approving any decision for which he/she may be held liable they will always err on the side of safety. Hence, the expression 'over-engineered'.

The term 'over-engineered' would be not unlike the standard that the Dam Safety Branch is holding the city to when it comes to designing the dams at Colliery Park. Because of a combination of probability and outcome (loss of over 100 lives) the Dam Safety Branch requires a new dam (or rehabilitation) be able to meet a standard for an event that 'could' occur with a once in a 10,000 year chance.

We are all for public safety and the reduction of risk, hence we have speed limits, airbags, helmets, mouthguards and the like but there comes a point where even bubblewrapping everyone would still be considered to pose a potential 'risk'  albeit it may only happen once in a 10,000 year period, that some bureaucratic office might deem unacceptable.

Sound like so much nonsense? Well that is exactly what the Dam Safety Branch brain trust has decided is the new standard for dam safety.
How Much Of This Safety Paranoia Can Society Afford?

It is all well and good for some guy or gal hauling down $200,000 or so, to arbitrarily decide that Nanaimo taxpayers are going to have to spring for a dam what can withstand a 1 in 10,000 year event. A decision which will cost Nanaimo taxpayers multiples of what it would cost to build a dam that is designed to withstand a 1 in 3,000 year event.

What will the economic impact of this decision have on the 1649 dams throughout the province? Think about it!

How much paranoia driven decisions being made by highly paid 'professionals' can we as a society afford?

Not unlike another unelected bureaucracy that requires us to spend $82,000,000 to insure the safety of a water supply that has been safe for 150 years!


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