SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — “Long-term and systemic failures” by California officials and regulators to recognize inherent construction and design flaws caused last year’s near-disaster at the tallest U.S. dam, an independent panel of dam safety experts said Friday.
Members of the Association of State Dam Safety Officials and the U.S. Society on Dams carried out an independent investigation into the human and technical problems that caused the crisis at California’s Oroville Dam. The experts issued their report Friday.
Both spillways at the half-century old dam gave way in February 2017, forcing evacuation orders for nearly 200,000 people downstream.
The independent panel of dam safety experts say the structure had inherent design and construction weaknesses.
The report faults California’s Department of Water Resources and other regulators for allegedly failing to recognize and address those problems, over the course of decades of inspections and reviews.
State spokeswoman Erin Mellon said California officials would respond to the findings shortly.
Dam experts say findings from the Oroville crisis will have lessons for operators and regulators around the world.