Experts: Lack of warning at Oroville dam raises alarms

FILE - In this Feb. 28, 2017, file photo, construction crews clear rocks away from Oroville Dam’s crippled spillway in Oroville, Calif. The sudden collapse of spillways at the nation’s highest dam was unique because it came without warning, and the investigation into why that was is sure to change the way big dams are built and run around the world, an independent team searching for explanations into this winter’s near-disaster at Oroville Dam says. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)
FILE - In this Feb. 28, 2017, file photo, construction crews clear rocks away from Oroville Dam’s crippled spillway in Oroville, Calif. The sudden collapse of spillways at the nation’s highest dam was unique because it came without warning, and the investigation into why that was is sure to change the way big dams are built and run around the world, an independent team searching for explanations into this winter’s near-disaster at Oroville Dam says. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)

 

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Dam experts say the collapse of spillways at the nation’s tallest dam this winter has raised alarms nationally because there appeared to be no warning that the spillways were about to fail.

Speaking to reporters for the first time Thursday, an independent group of dam safety experts say they would’ve expected warning signs leading up to the collapse.

Most dam emergencies happen during flooding, but the spillways at California’s Oroville Dam began breaking up suddenly in February under relatively small amounts of water.

Authorities evacuated nearly 200,000 people after both flood-release spillways started falling apart. The expert team is conducting its own probe into the failure.

Investigation leader John France says dam professionals nationally want to know how the collapse of Oroville’s main spillway came as such a surprise.

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