Officials Dismissed Oroville Spillway Concerns in 2005, Documents Show

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OROVILLE (AP) — Documents show environmentalists raised concerns years ago about the stability of the emergency spillway at the tallest U.S. dam but state officials dismissed them, insisting the structure was safe.

In a 2005 motion filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, three advocacy groups said using Lake Oroville’s earthen spillway would cause significant erosion because it wasn’t armored with concrete.

They said soil, rocks and debris could be swept into the Feather River, potentially damaging bridges and power plants. The groups warned of a failure of the dam itself, threatening lives and property.

Nearly three years later, state officials said no “significant concerns” about the spillway’s integrity had been raised in any government or independent review.

Bill Croyle, acting head of California’s Department of Water Resources, said Monday that he wasn’t familiar with the 2005 warnings.

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