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Oroville Dam crisis, why 200,000 people near the US’ tallest dam are in danger
What is happening at the Oroville Dam in California, the United States’ tallest dam where structural damages caused the evacuation of 200,000 residents.
With its 230 metres (770 feet) the Oroville dam in California is the tallest in the United States, lying about 240 kilometres (150 miles) from San Francisco. On the 7th of February operators noticed damages to the main spillway, channel used to control the release of water from the basin, flowing into the Feather River. After they slowed down the flow to investigate this they realised that a large portion of concrete had been washed away. This led California Governor Jerry Brown to declare a state of emergency in the counties of Butte, Sutter and Yuba on the 12th of February, calling for the evacuation of 200,000 residents. In addition, all 23,000 soldiers of the US’ National security corps were called in to help.
— CANGJOCOPS (@CANGJ3OPS) 9 febbraio 2017
What happened at the Oroville Dam
After the damage to the dam was noticed, it was decided to use the emergency spillway for the first time since it was built 50 years ago. The latter isn’t built with the same specifications as the main one, which is controlled by gates and made in concrete, leaving water to flow down the earthen hillside instead. Its use increases the risk of collapse because when the water starts to erode the ground, the dirt and water start to roll down the hill, leading to the potential creation of a 10-metre tall wall of water.
The evacuation alert
After a week of rainstorms in the area last week and snowmelt in Lake Oroville, the lake reached its full capacity and state officials had to order the state of emergency and evacuation of the three counties that lie in the dam’s proximity. President Donald Trump‘s response was to pledge to send federal aid to help in the Oroville Dam crisis. Press Secretary Sean Spicer used this occasion to underline the need to focus on the nation’s infrastructure, one of Trump’s electoral promises.
— CaliforniaGuard (@theCaGuard) 12 febbraio 2017
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