Suspicion is running high among residents near the troubled Oroville Dam after state legislators approved a measure to make dam emergency plans secret, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
According to the Chronicle, “[s]ome say the around-the-clock clamor high above town must be a secret effort to mine undiscovered metal from the once-booming Gold Country outpost. Others suspect a missile silo is taking shape, not a new spillway to send water down the Feather River.”
At least one resident told the Chronicle that he plans to get out of town:
“I’m moving as soon as I get the chance,” Charles Hunter, 47, a handyman who lives and works below the lake, reportedly said.
Over 800,000 cubic yards of cement are scheduled to be poured for dam repairs, an amount that the Chronicle notes is “about twice what was used for the new Bay Bridge skyway.”
The political climate is worsening for the embattled Department of Water Resources as state legislators “voted to make dam-safety plans secret through language that was quietly inserted into a budget-related bill,” according to the Sacramento Bee. The reason for keeping the plans secret is cited as “public safety.”
“The legislation, which [still] requires Gov. Jerry Brown’s signature before becoming law, says emergency action plans at dams would be kept confidential to “protect public safety.”
Assemblyman James Gallagher, (R-Yuba City), reportedly said slipping the language into a budget-related bill, Senate Bill 92, without debate was “kind of insulting, really” to the nearly 200,000 residents who were forced to evacuate mere hours before the emergency spillway nearly failed earlier this year.
Contractors have already finish weeks of demolition, using explosives to blast away the damaged portion of the spillway, so they can repair and replace a crater that spans nearly three football fields.
The emergency spillway will be shored up with a 1,500 foot tall retaining wall, and will be partially paved,-at the cost of hundreds of millions of dollars, at the very least.