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Washington State Dam Could Fail: Officials

Public not in danger from 65-foot crack, they say
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Mar 1, 2014 2:59 PM CST

(Newser) – A dam in the Columbia River in Washington State has developed a crack 65 feet long and two inches wide, and officials are warning of a "potential failure." The public, however, doesn't face any danger, officials say, per the Seattle Times. "Catastrophic failure is very unlikely," a utilities rep tells the Wenatchee World. "We’re not anticipating a huge amount of water coming. In a worst-case scenario … the flows that would move into the river below would not exceed the regular flow of the Columbia River. There is plenty of room to handle it."

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But that doesn't mean there's not a "serious problem," according to another spokesman. In order to protect inspectors investigating the situation, officials are lowering water levels by 20 feet. It's unclear what caused the crack, which was discovered by divers after an engineer noticed some "bowing" at the site. In addition to affecting fishermen and farmers, a failure at the dam would pose a power-supply problem: It's capable of generating more than 1,000 megawatts of power, the Times notes. (Read more Washington state stories.)

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