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The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Citizens demand safety assessment for Oroville Dam

Genoa Widener (left) hosting a petition signing outside the Oroville Walmart. Many people showed up to show their support including Vice Mayor of Oroville Janet Goodson (right), Feb. 4. Photo courtesy Genoa Widener.

A petition to get an independent agency to assess the safety of the Oroville dam has gathered over 3,000 signatures.

The city of Oroville recently brought suit against The Department of Water Resources (DWR) after the spillway failure, but that only addresses part of the problem, says Oroville resident Genoa Widener.

The dam itself needs to be assessed as well, and by an independent agency, Widener says.

“The community is distrustful of the DWR. We’re not confident the rest of the dam is safe,” Widener said.

She says she remembers the evacuation well, and hearing the DWR say everything was fine.

“We’ve heard these things before,” she said. “We need an independent assessment to be comfortable living underneath it.”

She hopes to gather 10,000 signatures to get the attention of local politicians, and was at the Oroville Walmart on Feb. 2-4 with petitions. People who evacuated from areas like Yuba City and Biggs during the crisis came from out of town to sign.

“People are still angry – it was a traumatic experience,” said Widener. “Others are trying to say it’s no big deal because there was no ultimate failure and everyone returned home. But we didn’t know at the time. We thought people were going to die.”

Links to the petition and more information can be found on Widener’s Facebook page, NotjustaSpillway.

Josh Cozine can be reached at [email protected] or @joshcozine on Twitter.

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