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New forensic report says DWR partly to blame

On Friday, the independent forensic team released long-awaited findings of the root causes of the Oroville Dam Spillway Failure, and it blames the department of water resources.

Posted: Jan. 5, 2018 6:39 PM
Updated: Jan. 5, 2018 6:45 PM

On Friday, the independent forensic team released long-awaited findings of the root causes of the Oroville Dam Spillway Failure, and it says the Department of Water Resources is partly to blame.

The long awaited, almost 600 page independent forensic report concludes that concludes "the incident cannot be reasonably blamed on any one individual, group, or organization."

Rather, it was caused by long standing failure by the DWR to recognize and do something about the spillway design and construction weaknesses.

The experts also say there is no single root cause or a simple chain of events that led to the failure and the evacuations, it’s all a combination of things.

“It is dynamite. It takes the DWR through the days before construction,” said Oroville resident Don Blake.

“They kicked the can down the road, they knew something was wrong and they didn’t fix it,” said Paradise resident Tom Kelly.

That’s a pretty common view many have of the DWR right now, they simply don’t trust the department.

Butte County Supervisor Bill Connelly said he was shocked the report actually pointed the finger at the DWR like it did.

“I thought there would be more of a cover-up, but the little bit I saw was very truthful and put the blame where it is,” he said.

On Friday afternoon, a group of people met at the Feather River Fish Hatchery to get the word out about a petition urging the Federal Energy Regulation Committee not to issue the relicensing of the dam and open it up to other considerations.

Genoa Widener is the organizer and says she, along with her parents and grandparents, has lived in Oroville her entire life.

“My parents had to evacuate with my 94-year-old grandmother and nothing has been done since then, and I feel somebody needs to do it,” she said.

The report also said there are some physical factors that led to the failure, one of which was poor foundation in some locations.

“Finally, it’s time for everybody in this community to rise up and we can’t let the DWR get away with this,” Blake said.

The group is hoping for at least 50,000 signatures and think that could persuade FERC to reconsider the relicensing.

Read the full report here.

If you’d like to sign the petition, click here.

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