Last week, Utah’s soon-to-be Governor, Gary Herbert, backed off on a promised probe into the cause of the failure of the Logan Northern Canal on July 11th with spokeswoman Angela Welling calling it a "fruitless endeavor." What? Can they be serious?
Herbert is scheduled to move from the Lieutenant Governor’s office into the Governor’s office as soon current Governor Jon Huntsman is confirmed as the U.S. Ambassador to China. And in the wake of the canal collapse, he initially said that he was committed to finding the "underlying causes" of the disaster. Now he has decided to not ask the Executive Water Task Force, the entity responsible for for investigating waterways, or any other state agency, to look into the matter.
The group is slated to meet in August and one member thinks the time has come for more government oversight of the 5,300 miles of canals in Utah. Herbert, however, claims there is no statute that gives the state the authority to conduct the probe although he admits he can order one; he now says that even if he does order one, no one will have to participate. This pronouncement comes on the heels of Logan city officials indicating that they will not be looking into the causes either.
So what now for the families of the three killed and those who suffered the loss of their homes or other property damage? These victims are on their own, apparently, to figure out what went wrong and to attempt get justice from the canal owners. Despicable. And unnecessary – a neutral third-party or independent panel should be formed to determine the causes of the disaster and to make recommendations, perhaps binding, to prevent future canal failures.
What do you think?
Bret Hanna of Wrona DuBois in Utah, focuses exclusively on litigating plaintiffs’ medical malpractice and catastrophic personal injury cases. He has represented clients in state and federal courts, in mediations, and in administrative proceedings in Michigan and Utah since 1991.