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Originally published Wednesday, June 20, 2012 at 10:35 AM

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Fed agency upgrades safety rating of Dworshak Dam

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has upgraded the safety rating of a major Columbia Basin dam, but there haven't been any major repairs or changes to the structure itself.

Associated Press

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BOISE, Idaho —

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has upgraded the safety rating of a major Columbia Basin dam, but there haven't been any major repairs or changes to the structure itself.

Instead, Corps spokesman Bruce Henrickson says the federal agency decided to change the rating of Dworshak Dam from "unsafe or potentially unsafe" to "conditionally unsafe" after studying the risks.

According to the corps' analysis, the biggest risks come from earthquakes, which are rare in the region, and a trifecta of adverse weather events, starting with a winter that brings heavy snowpack, followed by an abnormally wet spring, topped off with a rapid warming trend. But officials say the cracks in the dam, seepage and other structural issues don't appear to present an urgent risk of failure.

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