Report: California Has Not Paid $1.2 Billion in Oroville Dam Damage Claims

OROVILLE, CA - FEBRUARY 17: In this handout provided by the California Department of Water Resources (pixel.water.ca.gov), Water continues to move down the damaged spillway at Oroville Dam with an outflow of 80,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) on on February 17, 2017 in Oroville, California. Last weekend overflow waters …
Brian Baer/ California Department of Water Resources via Getty Images

The state of California has not settled any of the $1.2 billion in claims coming from the Oroville Dam crisis, according to a report.

Residents, farmers, and local governments filed 490 claims with the state government in the months after the structure of the spillway of the nation’s tallest dam faltered in February.

But California’s Department of General Services (DGS) has not settled any of the claims and has turned down hundreds of them, according to the Sacramento Bee.

The Bee reports that the DGS flat-out rejected 347 of those claims because Monica Hassan, the agency’s deputy director, said: “they were more complex than the standard administrative claims … the department normally receives.”

Some of the claims were reportedly denied because those filing them missed the deadline, did not pay the filing fee, or did not provide enough information in their claim for it to be properly evaluated.

But 143 claims are still marked as pending — although Hassan defended the pending claims before DGS by noting that the agency decides claims “on an individual basis.”

Those who filed the claims are not backing down — many who filed claims with DGS that were rejected, including two walnut farms looking for $15 million in damages, say they plan to pursue legal action against the state.

The Oroville Dam crisis began after the dam’s main spillway fractured during heavy rainfall, causing water levels in the reservoir to rise to unprecedented levels.

Authorities ordered nearly 200,000 residents to evacuate the surrounding area as officials anticipated the spillway’s collapse, but it never collapsed.

Hundreds of retailers and restaurants submitted claims for lost business, cities and counties requested reimbursements for evacuation costs, and farms filed claims after many crops were flooded.

Even though the dam had been repaired, a Department of Water Resources report found that 75 percent of the repaired parts of the dam already showed signs of disrepair.

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