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Governor: People Will Be Held Responsible for Failed Dam

It had been the target of investigations prior to Tuesday failure
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted May 21, 2020 1:18 AM CDT
Updated May 21, 2020 5:00 AM CDT

(Newser) – Thousands of Michigan residents were forced to flee their homes in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic when a dam failed Tuesday, flooding homes downstream with as much as nine feet of water. On Wednesday, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer promised that the state would "pursue every line of legal recourse" against those responsible, the Washington Post reports. State officials say that in addition to historic rainfall, deferred maintenance at Edenville Dam is to blame. The AP reports the hydroelectric dam, owned by Boyce Hydro Power LLC, had a history of safety violations over the entire 14-year course of time the company was authorized to operate the dam. In 2018, federal regulators had even revoked the dam's license.

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Regulators had warned the dam on the Tobacco and Tittabawassee rivers, about 140 miles north of Detroit, had insufficient spillway capacity and might not be able to prevent flooding during severe weather conditions. "This incredible damage requires that we hold people responsible," Whitmer said Wednesday. "The initial readout is that this was a known problem for a while, and that’s why it’s important that we do our due diligence and that we take our action as merited." The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission will also investigate. The floodwaters are now threatening a Dow Chemical Superfund site. However, no injuries or fatalities have been reported from the flooding. (Read more Michigan stories.)

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