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Nessel: Dam Owner is Responsible for Edenville Dam Failure

The State Attorney General’s office recently released a report putting full blame for the Edenville Dam failure on the dam owner.

Just over three years ago the Edenville dam failed, causing Wixom Lake to completely empty and flooded many communities downstream. Since then, blame has been pointed at the state, the federal government and the private dam owner.

Attorney General Dana Nessel says it is fully on the owner, Boyce Hydro.


“I would suggest to you that we absolutely know who’s responsible,” said Nessel. “It’s Boyce Hydro.”

Boyce Hydro, and specifically owner Lee Mueller, own and operate the Edenville Dam. According to a new report from the attorney general’s office, state and federal inspectors told Mueller of dangerous faults in the dam structure 10 years before the failure.

“This is not the state’s fault. I maintain that and we want to seek what kind of avenues for redress we can get from Boyce Hydro,” said Nessel. “Of course the state wants to be as helpful as it possibly can be.”

It brings the question, if the state knew the dam was dangerous and knew Boyce was not going to do anything about it, why not force action?


Nessel says the state does need to change their inspection practices but this is a clear liability.

“Who is legally responsible and at fault?” said Nessel. “We’ve had many, many cases where the state has conceded error and conceded fault but that is just not the circumstance when we’re talking about this dam failure.”

The next steps are to prove that liability and to get financial restitution. That is something a private dam owner may not be able to cover.

“It lies squarely on the shoulders of Boyce Hydro. It doesn’t mean that the state shouldn’t be a big part of the process of trying to be helpful to residents who require that help,” said Nessel. “But you can’t just say well we can’t get money from Boyce Hydro, so we’re going to blame somebody else instead. That’s not how the law works.”

You can read the report here.

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