Commonwealth Journal

Local News

February 26, 2013

Drilling operation at Wolf Creek Dam coming to a close soon

Somerset —  

The 4,000-foot-long protective concrete barrier wall to permanently fix Wolf Creek Dam is 100 inches from completion. It is a project of a scope never done anywhere in the world.
As of Tuesday, 1,198 piles had been created to form the wall in the earthen section of the dam that impounds Lake Cumberland. There are only two more piles to go.
Don Getty, manager of the Wolf Creek Dam Rehabilitation Project, said the wall probably will be completed sometime next week. It will finish a barrier wall that extends through the earthen section of the dam and 100 feet into limestone bedrock beneath the dam.
Getty said the last hole, or pile, is “out of vertical tolerance” and will be drilled with a special bit brought from overseas. Getting the special bit is not supposed to cause much of a delay and is probably already on site, Getty said. He theorized the special bit was shipped from general contractor Treviicos-Soletanche Joint Venture’s headquarters in either Italy or France.
The 50-inch overlapping holes are drilled by following an 8-inch pilot hole. Getty indicated the final hole being out of vertical tolerance is not a big deal. There are more ways than one to correct the problem, and it has happened before, he said.
A pile is a hole, 50 inches in diameter and 275 feet deep, filled with 140 yards of concrete. It forms part of a wall, 4,000 feet long and a minimum of two feet wide. 
The wall extends from the work platform on the upstream side of the dam to about 100 feet into bedrock beneath the dam. Purpose of the wall is to stop uncontrolled seepage that has plagued the structure since the lake was impounded 62 years ago.
Lake Cumberland is 101 miles long and averages 90 feet deep. The 65,000 acres of water put a lot of pressure on Wolf Creek Dam and seepage has been a problem from the beginning. 

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