Michigan dam that failed had its license revoked over safety issues in 2018: report

Michigan dam that failed had its license revoked over safety issues in 2018: report
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One of the Michigan dams that failed Tuesday night had its license revoked in 2018 over safety issues, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday

Two dams burst on Tuesday, causing Michigan Gov. Gretchen WhitmerGretchen WhitmerMichigan Democrats resume push for gun control after school shooting Three dead, six wounded in Michigan school shooting Michigan hits new record for COVID-19 hospitalizations MORE (D) to declare a state of emergency in Midland County. 

The Edenville dam, one of the two that failed, had its license revoked in 2018 with federal regulators citing the dam owner's failure to address safety issues, the Journal reports. Both the Edenville and Sanford dams, which were breached Tuesday, are operated by Boyce Hydro Power LLC, according to the Journal. 


The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) said in a 2018 filing it was revoking the dam's license due to Boyce’s “longstanding failure to increase the project’s spillway capacity to safely pass flood flows, as well as its failure to comply with its license, the Commission’s regulations, and a June 15, 2017 compliance order,” according to the Journal. 

The Hill reached out to Boyce Hydro Power LLC for comment. Representatives for Boyce did not respond to the Journal’s request for comment. 

The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy took control over regulation of the dam after the license was revoked, according to the Journal. 

The agency inspected the dam in October 2018 and found it to be structurally sound, but had concerns about its spillway capacity, a spokesman for the agency, Nick Assendelft, told the Journal. 

Assendelft told the newspaper that recent rainfall and flooding, in combination with deferred maintenance of dams in the state over decades, likely contributed to the failure on Tuesday. 

The Edenville and Sanford dams on the Tittabawassee River failed Tuesday, sending thousands of gallons of water towards a small Michigan city, home to Dow Chemical Co., and forcing thousands of residents to evacuate. 

FERC still regulates the Sanford dam and two others owned by Boyce, according to the Journal. The federal agency reportedly called for the company to form an independent investigative team to analyze the cause of damage to the Sanford facility. FERC also ordered the firm to lower the reservoirs of the three dams the agency regulates, as well as perform immediate safety inspections. 

“Our primary concern is the safety of Michigan residents, and we urge them to continue heeding evacuation guidance,” FERC Chairman Neil ChatterjeeNeil ChatterjeeOvernight Energy & Environment — Democrats detail clean electricity program Biden nominates DC regulator to federal energy commission Former GOP energy regulator regrets partisan past MORE told the Journal. “When it is appropriate and safe to do so, FERC will send a staff engineer to the site to assist with the investigation.”