Repairs Begin On Damaged Oroville Dam Spillway With Little Room For Error

OROVILLE (CBS13) – After the crumbled Oroville Dam spillway sent thousands fleeing from Oroville, now comes the rebuild.

The gates at the damaged Oroville Dam spillway are now permanently closed and repair work is underway. Crews are using jackhammers and explosives to demolish what’s left of the crumbled concrete chute. The work marks the beginning of a new rebuilding phase for the spillway, following a wet winter that caused a lot of damage.

Explosives are ripping apart the rocks and the mountain on which the spillway sits.

“They’re anticipating blasting to occur pretty much daily for the near term to keep going on the demolition of the spillway,” said California Department of Water Resources spokesperson Jeanne Kuttle.

Heavy equipment attached to giant jackhammers is also dislodging sections of the spillway chute in preparation for reconstruction. Crews are working on a short timeline, with plans to replace the lower section of the spillway chute by the start of the next rainy season, which is just six months away.

A company called Kiewit Corporation from Nebraska won the $275 million contract to rebuild the spillway.

By midsummer, up to 500 employees will be working 20 hours a day at the spillway site.

For some Oroville residents, the sights and sounds of constant construction is a whole new way of life.

Julie Spohn’s home backs up to the Oroville Dam.

“What I hear is beep, beep, beep, when those trucks are backing up all night and all day…I just hope they do a good job,” she said.

Work on the project is a week ahead of schedule.

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