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Governor Brown Guarding Secrets on California’s Oroville Dam

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Oroville Dam

Credit: California Department of Water Resource

by Ryan Sabalow, The Sacramento Bee

Governor Jerry Brown’s administration is using federal security regulations written to thwart terrorism to deny public access to records that experts say could guide repairs to the Oroville Dam and provide insight into what led to the near catastrophic failure of its emergency spillway.

The administration also is blocking public review of records that would show how Brown’s office handled the February crisis at Oroville Dam that led to the two-day evacuation of nearly 200,000 Northern Californians.

Days after the evacuation orders were lifted in February, The Sacramento Bee filed requests to the state under the California Public Records Act. In one request, the newspaper sought design specifications, federal inspection reports, technical documents, the results of rock sampling and other information. Outside engineers told The Bee such records would likely provide an accounting of what caused a gaping chasm to form in the dam’s main concrete spillway on February 7th and the near collapse of the dam’s emergency spillway a few days later.

The Bee also sought internal communications and emails from Brown’s office. Those records could show how Brown and his top staff members were coordinating the ongoing crisis with each other, with outside agencies and with members of the public.

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© 2017 The Sacramento Bee

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