What defines allowable capacity?

From the New York Times….

Authority officials initially said that about 1.7 million cubic yards of wet coal ash had spilled when the earthen retaining wall of an ash pond breached, but on Thursday they released the results of an aerial survey that showed the actual amount was 5.4 million cubic yards, or enough to flood more than 3,000 acres one foot deep. The amount now said to have been spilled is larger than the amount the Authority initially said was in the pond, 2.6 million cubic yards.

Authority officials offered little explanation for the discrepancy, telling reporters that the initial number was an estimate based on their information at the time. The aerial survey was done on Tuesday, but the results were not released until Thursday. Calls to an Authority spokesman on Friday morning were not immediately returned.

Residents were stunned by the new numbers. “That’s scary to know that they can be off by that much,” said Angela Spurgeon, whose yard is swamped with ash. “I don’t think it was intentional, but it upsets me to know that a number was given of what the pond could hold, and the number now is more than double of what the pond actually held.”

Gilbert Francis Jr., a spokesman for the Authority, said Wednesday that the pond had not exceeded its allowable capacity.

Look, the dam burst. That is a fact.

Thus, it seems that the pond had exceeded the its allowable capacity according to the laws of physics. Now maybe there is a piece of paper somewhere that says that the dam could hold more. But if so, that piece of paper was wrong.

Given that their are lots more of these dams all around the pressing question is why was that piece of paper wrong?

In this case though, I suspect that someone is lying. The clip below seems to suggest that they knew there where problems with the dam.

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