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News Posted on February 16, 2017

Professor Frank Comments for Daily Journal on State Liability and Oroville Dam

Professor of Environmental Practice Richard Frank ’74 commented for the Daily Journal on the potential for California and its Department of Water Resources to face massive liability claims if the Oroville Dam fails. The situation at the dam has been precarious, as the near-failure of an auxiliary spillway has forced mass evacuations, and workers struggle to repair the damage before more storms arrive. 

Environmental groups filed a motion in 2005 arguing for the need to reinforce the auxiliary spillway and pointing out other potential problems at the dam. “A number of environmental groups are looking pretty prescient right now,” Frank said.

In 1991, the state was found liable following a 1986 levee break, but the $500 million damages in that case “would pale in comparison to a catastrophic failure of the Oroville Dam,” said Frank.

Frank is a leader in the field of environmental law and the founding Director of the California Environmental Law and Policy Center at UC Davis School of Law.