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Dam owner files for bankruptcy protection

Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio

A company that owns two mid-Michigan dams that failed in May has filed for bankruptcy. The filings were made in the federal court in the Eastern District of Michigan.

Heavy rains swelled Wixom Lake in Gladwin County, eventually breaching the Edenville Damon May 19. After the dam failed, torrents of water swept down and over the Sanford Dam. Rising watersurged into the Tittabawassee River, eventually rising cresting at a record level in the city of Midland. 

Homes and businesses were inundated. Thousands of people were forced to evacuate. 

Boyce Hydro is facing numerous lawsuits. By filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, the company's creditors and those seeking damages will face another obstacle.

“The guy has to have a mechanism to protect himself...and his business. That what Chapter 11 does,” says Attorney Lawrence Kogan, who represents Boyce Hydro.

Kogan blames Boyce Hydro’s current financial difficulties onstateand federal regulators.   

Attorney General Dana Nessel says by filing for bankruptcy, Boyce Hydro is potentially leaving Michigan taxpayers holding the bag.

“This is a clear example of the problem that can arise when private entities own public infrastructure. Boyce Hydro has been a negligent owner and manager for years, and now, rather than dealing with the tragic circumstances that resulted from its negligence and paying the cost to fix those problems”

The Four Lakes Task Force, which was in the process of acquiring Boyce Hydro’s four dams before the events of May 19, declined comment on the company’s bankruptcy filing.   

On Monday, the task force filed court papers to acquire the dams through eminent domain. 

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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