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Workers at troubled Oroville Dam need dust-control plan after cancer-causing asbestos detected

Workers at troubled Oroville Dam need dust-control plan after cancer-causing asbestos detected
An aerial view of the water flowing out of the Oroville Dam's main spillway on Feb. 21. (Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

State water officials at the troubled Lake Oroville have supplied a dust-control plan to air quality officials after cancer-causing asbestos was detected at the work site this week.

During recent air quality and sediment testing at the site, naturally occurring asbestos was found in some areas of the construction zone, Department of Water Resources officials said Thursday.

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Asbestos is a common feature of California's geology, and the risk to workers and the surrounding community is "minimal," the agency said.

Crews repairing a damaged flood-control spillway have been using traditional construction methods such as wetting work areas with water trucks and laying rumble strips on roads to limit dirt collecting on equipment. But because asbestos has been detected, the Department of Water Resources has also submitted a dust-control plan to the local air quality management district.

The state water department will consider increasing air monitoring and sampling as well, officials said.

The reservoir's flood control spillway was damaged last month during a major storm. Since then, Department of Water Resources engineers have been working to repair the spillway, maintain safe water levels in the reservoir, keep water flowing in the Feather River below the dam and get a damaged hydroelectric plant at the site up and running again.

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