Independent investigation of Spencer Dam failure planned

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SPENCER, Neb. (AP) -- The Nebraska Natural Resources Department has asked a national dam safety organization to investigate the failure of the Spencer Dam during the March flooding.

The Association of State Dam Safety Officials said in a news release Monday that the independent investigation is expected to take six months with a goal of improving the dam safety industry's best practices.

Officials have said the northern Nebraska dam failed March 14 under an onslaught of ice chunks and high water in the Niobrara River. The wall of water and ice destroyed a residence and business just east of the dam, and the man who lived there hasn't been seen since.

Nebraska Public Power District owned the dam and has said the more than 90-year-old structure was designed for electricity generation, not for flood control. District spokesman Mark Becker said Monday that the district supports state's request for an independent investigation.