Climate Change – Placentia Flood Wall
Climate change has become a major growing concern in today's society. Climate change also presents profound risk to the integrity of numerous engineered systems and in turn, the global public safety. According to the Canadian Code of Ethics “engineers shall hold paramount the safety, health and welfare of the public and the protection of the environment.” Therefore, engineers must assure that existing public infrastructure is capable of withstanding the impacts of climate change.
Established by French colonies in 1963, Placentia is located on Newfoundland’s Avalon Peninsula and on the east coast of Placentia Bay. With a, currently rising, population of approximately 4,000 residents the region is the site of present and planned petroleum refineries as well as the soon to be locale for processing ore from the Voisey’s Bay nickel-copper-cobalt plant.
Unfortunately, due to the regions low lying location on a flood plain adjacent to the sea the town of Placentia has been face with serious flooding in the past. As a result, is 1993 a sheet pile floodwall structure running parallel to the main beach was constructed. The sheet pile wall is intended to protect the downtown portion of the community from flooding. However, due to present concerns surrounding climate change the question arises whether or not this form of infrastructure is vulnerable to the effects of intensified weather events. Catastrophic failure of the floodwall would flood much of the downtown Placentia.
The following paper will highlight the history of flooding concerns in Placentia and the effects of specific aspects of climate change on the sheet pile flood wall. These aspects include; sea level rise, wind assisted surge waves, and intense rainfall events. The engineering requirements to address such effects will also be presented.
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