LESTERVILLE, Mo. -- Water poured through a breach at a hydroelectric plant's rural reservoir in southeast Missouri this morning, washing away an unknown number of homes and vehicles, authorities said.
The breach occurred about 5:30 a.m. in the upper of two reservoirs at AmerenUE's Taum Sauk Lake Hydroelectric Plant, AmerenUE officials said.
One person had been feared missing but was later accounted for, authorities said.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission was investigating the cause of the breach. AmerenUE officials said there was no sign of foul play. The reservoir sits near the New Madrid Fault Line, which often generates small earthquakes, but Gov. Matt Blunt said no seismic activity occurred Wednesday morning.
The Rev. Bill Jackson said Jerry and Lisa Tubes and their three young children were rescued some time after dawn from several locations in Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park, where Jerry Tubes is superintendent. Jackson said floodwater destroyed the family’s home, which was near the park campground.
All five were taken to Reynolds County Memorial Hospital in Ellington, south of Lesterville. Jackson said two of the children were being taken by ambulance to hospitals in St. Louis. He didn’t know their conditions, but said all five family members had suffered from exposure.
“The water collapsed the house around them, and they just floated out,” said Jackson, who was with the family in the hospital. “Jerry was in a cedar tree when the rescuers found him. He was cold and has a lot of bruises. Lisa had two of the kids with her. I don’t know where the rescuers found the others.
“They are very, very grateful,” Jackson said. “It’s a miracle. Can you imagine your house being swept away at a time like that?
Air temperatures were in the mid 30s when the dam broke. The Tubes’ children range from five years to six months. The two older children, a boy and a girl, were transferred to St. Louis, and the baby -- a boy -- remained with his parents in the Reynolds hospital.
The Shut-Ins is downstream on the Black River from the AmerenUE upper reservoir.
National Weather Service meteorologist Joe Pedigo said rain was not a factor in the break. The region received only about one-tenth of an inch of rain overnight, he said.
Conditions along the Black River, where the plant is situated, were considered dangerous, the National Weather Service said.
The plant, built in 1963, is in the Ozarks, about 120 miles southwest of St. Louis.
"The Lesterville area and areas south along the Black River are in extreme peril," said Missouri State Highway Patrol Sgt. Marty Elmore. "We need to make every effort to have folks get to higher ground."
Pedigo said rescue teams searched for people believed to be trapped in cars, especially along Highway N near the reservoir shortly after the breach. Pedigo said a house, a mobile home, several cars and a tractor-trailer were reported washed away.
The town of Lesterville, with about 150 residents, was under a voluntary evacuation order, said Reynolds County emergency management director Terry Sanders. She didn't know how many people were forced out of their homes. "We're so small we don't have population signs," she said.
Reynolds County has about 6,700 residents.
Officials at AmerenUE, a utility based in St. Louis, said the breach occurred at the northwest corner of the reservoir that holds back 1.5 billion gallons of water from the Black River.
"A number of AmerenUE engineers and specialists are investigating the incident; clearly, public safety is our top concern," said plant superintendent Rick Cooper.
AmerenUE spokeswoman Susan Gallagher said it wasn't immediately clear how much water escaped. She said crews were hustling to the scene to try and fix the breach.
Gallagher said the plant has four chief features: the upper reservoir atop Proffit Mountain, a 7,000-foot-long shaft and tunnel, a powerhouse with two reversible pump turbine units and a lower reservoir formed by a dam across the Black River's east fork.
During times of peak demand for electricity, water -- released from the upper reservoir -- rushes down the shaft and through the tunnel. As it passes through the powerhouse, the water spins the turbines to generate electricity, then is retained in the lower reservoir.
Blunt said the lower reservoir was holding, though it was retaining more water than normal. He said there was concern that if the lower reservoir succumbs, massive amounts of water could surge downstream
It's interesting that AmerenUE was so proud that they could operate the power plant by remote control some 100 miles away in St. Louis. I guess sometimes it helps to have a human onsite when you're trying to generate power for a city like St. Louis.
Here's the article on the plant receiving a design accolades in October for its nifty remote control feature.
ST. LOUIS (AP) - Inspectors were shocked to discover that the collapsed portion of a mountaintop reservoir was made of rocky "fill" instead of the granite that was assumed for decades to be the main material, the state's chief reservoir inspector said Thursday.
James Alexander, director of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources' Dam and Reservoir Safety Program, said the broken portion of retaining wall - 70 to 80 feet high and about two football fields wide - appeared to consist entirely of soil and smaller rock.
"We were shocked," he said, to see the "rubble material."
Alexander inspected the dam after the accident Wednesday that released a billion gallons of water down the side of Proffit Mountain.
The 50-acre upper reservoir of the Taum Sauk Lake hydroelectric plant in southeast Missouri breached shortly after 5 a.m. The torrent of water ripped through a state park, then down along the Black River, knocking cars and trucks off a rural highway.
The water tore from its foundation the home of park superintendent Jerry Toops, his wife, Lisa, and their three young children. All five survived, but the children were being treated at a St. Louis hospital for hypothermia.
A hospital spokesman said 5-year-old Tanner was in critical condition. His 3-year-old sister Tara and 7-month-old brother Tucker were upgraded Thursday night to fair condition.
The breach apparently occurred after an automated system malfunctioned and pumped too much water into the reservoir. A backup system that should have caught the problem also apparently failed, said Gary Rainwater, chairman and chief executive of St. Louis-based utility AmerenUE.
Inspectors from AmerenUE and the state were assisting the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which oversees the plant, with the investigation.
FERC officials did not return phone calls seeking comment. Asked to respond to Alexander's comments, AmerenUE issued a statement that read, "We will address this as part of our investigation."
If a large part of the retaining wall was mostly soil and smaller rock, it was likely doomed once too much water was pumped into the reservoir, said Charles Morris, an environmental engineering professor at the University of Missouri-Rolla. Soil-based retention walls will erode when overtopped, he said.
Over the years, leaks have occurred at the reservoir, which was completed in 1963. AmerenUE installed a plastic liner about a year ago to limit the leaks.
While inspectors might not have been able to predict the collapse, they would not have been as dismissive of the leaks if they knew part of the wall was made of fill, not granite, Alexander said.
"If I would have known that, yeah, that would be more of a concern," he said.
Information provided by AmerenUE said six million tons of granite was removed to level the top of 1,590-foot-tall Proffit Mountain, and workers used the removed stone to build a sloping retaining wall 90 feet tall and covering an area the equivalent of 30 football fields.
The company said that in addition to granite, the reservoir was lined with concrete and asphalt.
Fund Raisers for Taum Sauk Superintendent’s Children Still in Critical Condition
December 20 2005, 3:23 PM
Below is a summary of articles on the Taum Sauk dam disaster in the past week.
Jerry Toop, superintendent of Taum Sauk/Johnson Shut Ins and his young children are much in my prayers after they were swept away in the 20 foot wall of water that destroyed their house in 30 degree temps.
I have had numerous converations with Jerry over the years as we discussed the possibility of locating the Jakk Longacre Highpointers Museum on the road approaching the Taum Sauk summit. I can’t imagine a better superindent anwya.
As a native of Missouri, I first got the highpointing bug in 1969 when I visited the Taum Sauk reservoir with my parents and brother. Over the years I have camped up and down the Black River and its surrounding hills. It’s hard to imagine what has become of the most beautiful spot in all of Missouri.
Here’s the articles.
In article headlined, Taum Sauk fund-raisers set
Two accounts have been established and one fund-raiser will take place next week to benefit Johnson’s Shut-Ins Superintendent Jerry Toop’s family. Toop, his wife, and their three children were swept out of their beds Wednesday morning when the Taum Sauk dam failed and water from the reservoir slammed into their home and destroyed the building.
The three children were taken to Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital, where they were listed in critical condition on Wednesday. On Friday, however, a spokesman for the hospital said that only Tanner, 5, remained in critical condition in the pediatric care unit. Tara, 3, and Tucker, 7 months had been upgraded to fair condition and were moved out of the intensive care unit.
A fund has been established at the First State Community Bank of Ironton. Donations may be sent to the
Jerry and Lisa Toops Benefit Fund
First State Bank of Ironton
P.O. Box 168,
Ironton, Mo. 63650
Also, a fund to help victims of the flood and rebuilding efforts in Reynolds County has been established at Sun Security Bank. A spokesman for the bank said a special post office box has been opened to take donations. Make checks to:
Benefit for the Victims of the Taum Sauk
P.O. Box 231
Those who suffered damage as a result of the flooding are asked to contact a claims center that AmerenUE set up in Room 52 of the Shepherd Mountain Inn, 1321 N. Highway 21, Ironton. Claimants also may call 1-800-552-7583 ext. 44740 to report damages. Claims personnel from AmerenUE also will visit homes and families who were affected by the incident.
Assessment Begins on Damage to Johnson’s Shut-ins State Park 2005-12-17
Preliminary reports indicate the majority of the damage was in the area adjacent to the East Fork of the Black River, which flows through the park. Extensive damage was reported to the superintendent’s residence, the campground, the park’s water plant and the boardwalk to the shut-ins, the park’s signature natural feature. The park store and office were flooded but are still standing.
Investigators find soil, small rock at dam breach: AmerenUE spokesperson says company believed dam was made of rock and concrete 2005-12-16
An AmerenUE spokesman said the company was under the understanding that the Taum Sauk upper dam was made of rock and concrete. But neither material was evident Thursday when investigators examined the 600-foot wide, 100-foot deep breach in the dam that released more than a billion gallons of water into the Black River valley.
Instead, there appeared to be only soil and small rock. Other areas along the top of the dam had suffered minor damage, but those areas held, according to Mike Cleary, communications executive for AmerenUE.
The rock wall dam held an inner polyethylene liner and the floor of the dam was asphalt. The company installed a liner in order to reduce water leaks that resulted when water from the reservoir made its way through several cracks in the rock. The company replaced the original liner one year ago, Cleary said.
However, if any part of the dam was earthen, overtopping the reservoir would explain how a breach could occur, he added. The lack of rock and concrete evidence near the breach could mean that the section was, indeed, constructed of earth instead of rock, he theorized.
“If it was earthen, we don’t design them to handle overtopping,” Morris said. “We assume from an engineering perspective, that it will fail if overtopping occurs. That could happen immediately or take some time, depending on the surface.”
Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park Suffered Heavy Damage In Reservoir Failure
Blunt orders review of dam safety rules 2005-12-16
His order also followed a report in Friday’s Post-Dispatch that many dams in Missouri and Illinois need repair, lack emergency plans and are regulated by state offices that are stretched thin. More than half of Missouri’s 641 dams that could prove most destructive if they fail are not regulated by the government.
Members of the Highway Patrol’s Division of Drug and Crime Control, which is the department’s investigative unit, were at the Taum Sauk plant on Friday. They are investigating to determine whether the failure of the dam and the computer-operated equipment was an accident or intentional, said Lt. Tim Hull, spokesman for the Highway Patrol.
The investigation into the cause of the equipment failure and the resulting 600-foot wide and 100-foot deep breach in the dam wall could take months.
Given the significant investment in the facility, the company most likely would want to rebuild the dam. However, until the reason for the dam failure is identified, the company will not know whether it would be cost effective to make repairs, spokesman Mike Cleary said.
AmerenUE does not expect the loss of the dam to affect electricity rates. The plant is one of many factors that keep prices down, Cleary explained.
“This helped our system operate more efficiently,” Cleary said. “But it produced less than 2 or 3 percent of our electricity, so there should be no significant impact on rates or production.”
State orders AmerenUE to stabilize Taum Sauk area (2005-12-29)
The department does not have regulatory oversight of the reservoir, but is involved in overseeing recovery efforts after the Dec. 14 breach, which released 1.5 billion gallons of water into the surrounding area, near Lesterville, Mo. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission regulates the plant.
AmerenUE has contracted with MacTec, an engineering, environmental and remedial construction firm, to address short-term issues at the site, including stabilizing sediment and addressing debris that has dammed the Black River and changed its flow. MacTec will also present its findings to state and federal authorities.
Lesterville, MO and New Orleans – A Tale of Two Floods 2005-12-16
In the same space of time, ironically, national news was made with the announcement that the New Orleans levees were going to be rebuilt “bigger and better”, now to a height of 17 feet in some places. And the talk of the “ability to withstand a Category 5 storm” is again in the news.
What wasn’t learned from Katrina should now be impressed upon us by Lesterville. Water is HEAVY. If water rises up the sides of a levee wall… one must consider the size of the impoundment! If a few extra feet of depth in a mere 55 acre reservoir in Lesterville, Missouri has enough added weight to collapse a 600 foot wide section of the retaining wall… how much additional pressure would raising the massive Lake Pontchartrain by a foot or 2 exert on these levees?
Disaster shows importance of mutual aid: Emergency officials say major casualty incident will require help of surrounding counties 2005-12-16
David Tetrault, director of the St. Francois County Ambulance, said when they arrived on scene to provide assistance, the emergency services were already being stretched handling the five injured people.
“If this had happened during the summer when that campground was full, there is no doubt in my mind there would have been a thousand people hurt or killed,” Tetrault said.
“Their emergency services would have been quickly overwhelmed, any county’s would. That is why we have to have strong mutual aid agreements in place. In a major casualty incident, you’re going to need the help of surrounding counties.”
State park takes beating when reservoir ruptured 2005-12-15
Holst said 19 campground reservations for 44 nights in the park had been canceled, and those who booked to stay at the park will receive full refunds. The park will not accept new reservations until it becomes clear when it can reopen.
Toops and his family were scheduled to move soon because he has been promoted to assistant Ozarks district supervisor in Lebanon, Mo. It was not clear when the superintendent’s house would be rebuilt.
Johnson’s Shut-Ins got its name thanks to the mix of geology and water in the area.
About 1.5 billion years ago, hot volcanic ash and gases spewed into the air, then cooled, forming a type of rock produced under conditions of intense heat, called igneous rock.
Over time, water from the Black River became confined, or “shut-in” to narrow channels, leading sand and gravel carried by the waters to cut into the erosion-resistant rock and resulting in dramatic chutes and gorges.
Much of the park was donated to Missouri in 1955
Blunt Commends Cooperative Response to Taum Sauk Flooding: Encourages Families to Form Emergency Plans 2005-12-17
“Yesterday’s flood was a true test of our emergency response capabilities. Everyone involved deserves our gratitude. Their immediate and coordinated reaction to protect Missourians safety helped to limit potential devastation,” Blunt said. “I will continue to personally oversee the state’s response to ensure we are doing all we can to help those affected by this tragic event.”
Destruction won’t affect local service, AmerenUE officials say
The power generated by the Taum Sauk plant was not integral to local customers, providing only 440 of the 12,000 megawatts Ameren UE distributes in the region.
Usually the water level is stopped at 3 feet below the top of the, but it looks like it overflowed and washed away the rock and filler material,” Rainwater said.
After the breach, 9 feet of the reservoir remained full, Rainwater said. That water was later drained.
Ameren reports that in 2004 it made repairs to leaks in the side slopes of the Taum Sauk plant. Cracks caused a daily loss of 2 feet of water until Geo-Synthetics Corporation filled the seems with a new rubber lining.
He reports that Lesterville endured less damage than might be expected at other times of the year. This is because the pool at Lesterville was at the lower, winter-pool level so it could absorb the 4- to 5-foot rise that resulted from the surging water, Smith said.
Smith also pointed out that this was the first time his office had contacted FEMA officials using satellite phone technology. There are now 40 satellite phones with FEMA personnel and first-responders throughout the region.
Reservoir failure releases wall of water in SE Missouri 2005-12-14
Gary Rainwater, AmerenUE president, said this afternoon that a preliminary review suggests an “instrumentation failure” caused the automatic system to continue pumping water into the upper reservoir, even though it already was full. Under the theory, he said, water splashing over the reservoir wall eroded its crushed-rock structure, causing a “fairly massive breach” of about 600 feet in width.
Rainwater said the system that fills the upper reservoir operates on its own and is monitored by AmerenUE’s hydro-power station at Lake of the Ozarks. Thomas R. Voss, company executive vice-president, said there are back-up systems as well as a safety that should shut off the pumps when the reservoir is filled.
The Rev. Bill Jackson told the Post-Dispatch that Jerry and Lisa Toops and their three young children were rescued some time after dawn from several locations in Johnson’s Shut-Ins, where Jerry Toops is superintendent. Jackson said floodwater destroyed the family’s home near the park campground. All five family members suffered from exposure.
“The water collapsed the house around them, and they just floated out,” said Jackson, who was with the family after the water hit. “Jerry was in a cedar tree when the rescuers found him. He was cold and has a lot of bruises. Lisa had two of the kids with her. I don’t know where the rescuers found the others.
A 20-foot wall of water smashed into the Toops’ home, sweeping it away. The family members themselves were swept as far as 200 yards away, according to authorities. All that’s left on the site is the cement foundation of the home. Trees on the property are blown down and the site has been turned into a muddy swamp.
The family was discovered by rescuers about 1-1/2 hours after the flood in the field, said Ed Stewart, 59, who lives three miles away, and helped locate them.
The mother and two of the children were found together, another child and the father were found about 50 feet away, Stewart said. They were cold, covered in mud, and so weak they could only manage to make “whimpering sounds,” Stewart said.
Reservoir emptied in about 12 minutes
Rainwater of AmerenUE told reporters that a monitor at the company’s station at the Lake of the Ozarks, where the company generates electricity through Bagnell Dam, indicated that the upper reservoir had been refilled by 5:12 a.m., but had fallen back to low level by 5:24 a.m.
The breach in the northwestern wall dropped the water level in the upper reservoir by about 70 feet, he said.
The Taum Sauk Hydroelectric Plant consists of a 50-acre lake built atop Proffit Mountain that is connected by a mile-long tunnel to a 300-acre lake at the base of the hill. The upper lake is about 700 feet higher in elevation than the lower one. AmerenUE drains the upper reservoir through generating turbines during times of peak electrical demand, then pumps the water back uphill when demand for electricity is lower.
Despite the destruction of the home, residents and business owners downstream considered themselves lucky; the situation would have been far worse if the dam to the lower reservoir had given way, they said. Some even said they had seen worse flooding during heavy rains.
“If that dam had broken, probably all of Lesterville would be under water,” said JoAnn Franklin, who owns a canoe rental business on the East Fork of the Black River
I don't understand the reasoning for holding the fundraisers for the victims of this accident. In my opinion, AmerenUE should pay for all losses. AmerenUE's equipment caused the accident and the company should foot the bill for responding to it and for making things right with the victims. AmerenUE should not rely on the charity of others to absolve its responsibility for the tragedy.
I totally agree, Ameren should be held responsible. Could you imagine this happening to your family?? The park was place of natural beauty, this is just a complete tradegy.
On another note, in college Ameren was my familys provider for electricity as we lived in southern MO - they were not a good company - a total lack of customer service and a total lack of compassion for low income families (who wanted to pay their bill, it may be just be a week late - but to bad because they WILL cut you off your electricity, and despite however long you had been a customer).
When I heard this story, I was saddened. I love the park, was just there for our summer family vacation last summer - then I saw Ameren was responsible. WOW!! I could definitely believe that, and that maddened me even more! SOmeone needs to hold Ameren accountable. I doubt their CEOs are struggling...I am sure their bonuses would cover the familys yearly income.
So anyone with any power out there...
The USGS has a page devoted to the Taum Sauk disaster.
The page created by the Mid-Continent Geographic Science Center in Rolla has photo galleries showing devastation around the mountain, down the Black River valley and at Johnson Shut Ins. The pictures evoke images of volcanic mudflows in how the flood stripped the ground to the rocks/
Meanwhile according to the Daily Journal
Three-year-old Tara Toops and her 7-month-old brother Tucker were discharged from Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital in St. Louis, hospital spokesman Bob Davidson said. Another sibling, 5-year-old Tanner, remains in critical condition at the hospital.
A trust fund has been set up for the park superintendent’s family at First State Community Bank.
Cash donations can be made there. Other donations may be handled by calling Rodney at 573-546-7233 or 701-7901.
Taum Sauk Park Supt. Jerry Toops on the Roar, the Miracle and Dealing with Hypothermia
December 27 2005, 6:10 PM
Taum Sauk State Park Superintendent Jerry Toops gave his first press conference after a billion gallons of water from Ameron’s pumped storage facility washed away his home and children.
Toops said he immediately knew there had been a disaster at the reservoir when he heard the roar that sounded like countless F15 jets. The wall of water totally obliterated their home shortly after 5 a.m. leaving only the foundation.
The interview was picked up by news sources throughout the country.
According to KDSK:
Last Wednesday, Jerry Toops heard his wife screaming for them to get out of their home located in the Johnson Shut-Ins State Park.
Then he heard a very loud, very unusual sound. “As soon as I got to my feet, the wall of water hit and I liken it to a head-on collision. It just ripped the room apart. One minute I’m standing on the floor and then I’m rolling around with the dresser and the bed and then waters’ on top of me,” he said.
Lisa says, “It seemed like it was slowly rising. But it took about all of ten seconds to completely fill the room. It rose up our legs and I told Tanner, hold your breath. And the water came up and we were under water.”
And Jerry Toops said, “When I came to the top, I swam to the roof of our house. And I swam to the roof of our house and got on top of it and I knelt down and prayed. I prayed that they would be alright.”
The family was separated. Jerry ended up in a tree. Lisa Toops had two of her three children with her; 5-year old Tanner and 7-month old Tucker
The Toops said they prayed and that it was a miracle they survived.
Tanner remains hospitalized in St. Louis for burns he suffered after being rescued apparently from improper handling of the hypothermic situation.
Since this is a mountaineering website I will repeat that advice about hypothermia first aid which is counter intuitive.
Rewarming of Frostbite
Rewarming is accomplished by immersion of the effected part into a water bath of 105 - 110 degrees F. No hotter or additional damage will result. This is the temperature which is warm to your skin. Monitor the temperature carefully with a thermometer. Remove constricting clothing. Place the appendage in the water and continue to monitor the water temperature. This temperature will drop so that additional warm water will need to be added to maintain the 105 - 110 degrees. Do not add this warm water directly to the injury. The water will need to be circulated fairly constantly to maintain even temperature. The effected appendage should be immersed for 25 - 40 minutes. Thawing is complete when the part is pliable and color and sensation has returned. Once the area is rewarmed, there can be significant pain. Discontinue the warm water bath when thawing is complete.
Do not use dry heat to rewarm. It cannot be effectively maintained at 105 - 110 degrees and can cause burns further damaging the tissues.
Once rewarming is complete the injured area should be wrapped in sterile gauze and protected from movement and further cold.
Once a body part has been rewarmed it cannot be used for anything. Also it is essential that the part can be kept from refreezing. Refreezing after rewarming causes extensive tissue damage and may result in loss of tissue. If you cannot guarantee that the tissue will stay warm, do not rewarm it. Mountaineers have walked out on frozen feet to have them rewarmed after getting out with no tissue loss. Once the tissue is frozen the major harm has been done. Keeping it frozen will not cause significant additional damage.
KDSK Video of the Interview
KDSK Helicopter of the Damage
KDSK Photo Gallery
Princeton University Page on Hypothermia
In other news:
Taum Sauk benefit raises $4,400: Four hundred crowd into cafeteria for spaghetti dinner to help Toops family
An estimated 400 people crowded into the cafeteria at the Lesterville school campus. School staff had to open two rooms to accommodate the crowd. Santa and Mrs. Claus showed up to help raise money, and Friends Pickin’, a bluegrass band from Ellington, entertained.
By the end of the evening, donations from the dinner had exceeded $4,400, volunteer Sue Black said.
The dinner, organized by State Sen. Kevin Engler, R-Farmington, and State Rep. J.C. Kuessner, D-Eminence, was one of several attempts to help the family. A fund at Sun Security Bank in Lesterville has raised more than $10,000, including a $5,000 donation from Wal-Mart, Engler said.
A separate fund at First State Community Bank of Ironton has received donations, but the bank would not say how much has been collected.
“The money is theirs as soon as they get back to town,” Black said.
In addition, Lesterville’s First Baptist Church has offered to house the family in its parsonage at no charge. Although Jerry Toops has been promoted and is scheduled for transfer next month, Lisa Toops plans to stay in Lesterville through the end of the school year, said Tina Mathes, Tanner’s and Tera’s preschool teacher. The couple already knew of Jerry Toop’s promotion and transfer when the dam broke, she added.
Jerry and Lisa Toops plan to stay in St. Louis another week to be with 5-year-old Tanner at Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital, Mathes said. The couple’s other children - Tara, 3, and Tucker, 7 months - were released from the hospital on Sunday.
Third plan issued for Taum Sauk recovery efforts: Stabilizing sediment, dealing with debris are priorities in restoration plan
Blunt told AmerenUE to move forward on debris and sediment removal and to monitor for impacts to water quality in the Black River.
The utility company is working with state and federal agencies to assess the damage and make repairs. Stabilizing sediment at the site and dealing with debris that dammed the Black River and changed its flow are two priorities in the restoration plan.
“While the State of Missouri is in no way responsible for this incident, we are responsible for ensuring that citizens in the area are safe and the environment,” Blunt said in a news release from his office. “We are taking a very close and careful look at the restoration activities to ensure the Black River and Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park are protected.”
The Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has expedited its efforts to restore the natural and cultural resources of the state park and the river. Director Doyle Childers hopes to have some services available at the park this summer.
DNR issues Taum Sauk cleanup order: River trying to reroute, 1800s cemetery full of debris
There is also a cemetery near the park office that DNR wants AmerenUE to clean up. Debris has washed up in the cemetery, which has graves from the early 1800s.
Mike Wells, deputy director of DNR, said their biggest goal right now is to stabilize Johnson’s Shut-Ins, which sustained the most damage, and Black River. He said so far AmerenUE has been very cooperative.
“There is a lot of sediment being delivered into the river,” Wells said.
Wells said a large part of the channel is completely choked with sediment. He said the river is trying to reroute.
Jakk Longacre Helped Stop Two Additional Pumped Reservoirs Near Taum Sauk
December 31 2005, 4:29 PM
Just for the record, in 2001 Jakk Longacre established great friendships with the Missouri Sierra Club because of a letter he wrote that was published in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch as he engaged in a (successful) battle to stop Ameren UE's plans to build two more pumped storage facilities on Church Mountain near Taum Sauk. Among other things the reservoirs would have flooded Taum Sauk Creek.
Sanborn CEO John Copple today announced the company has been contracted to provide high-density lidar data to the state of Missouri to support restoration efforts in the ruin caused by a wall of water that rushed through a rural area in south-central Missouri, which included significant portions of the historic Johnson’s Shut-ins State Park.
On December 14, 2005 the northern Taum Sauk reservoir dam broke sending a rush of water 200 yards wide, emptying the reservoir’s 1.5 billion gallons in 12-minutes, causing the evacuation of the near-by town of Lesterville, Missouri.
In need of disaster response, the United States Geological Survey (USGS), in conjunction with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, called on Sanborn, an industry leader in GIS, photogrammetric mapping and remote sensing solutions, for rapid response mapping to provide high accuracy last return topographic lidar data. The company was contracted on December 15, 2005 by the USGS and was able to take flight and acquire the lidar data within 24 hours.
Also used to locate new construction in flood prone areas and for planning construction of embankments, levees or drainage channels to protect urbanized areas already built, city engineers will have the ability to not only assess damage but also make effective decisions over repair estimates, design plans, and prioritizing the project.
“Sanborn was prepared and quick to respond,” states David Brostuen, Senior Program Manager with Sanborn. “Lidar technology provides crucial information and control so the region can evaluate damage caused by the breach effectively and support remediation planning.”
With a rich tradition of mapping dating back to 1866, Sanborn offers end-to-end spatial solutions to GIS and photogrammetric mapping customers. The company’s combined product and service offerings include consulting, off-the-shelf products, analog, digital and lidar data acquisition, photogrammetric mapping, geospatial solutions, remote sensing solutions, and data conversion. Sanborn offers product solutions for government and commercial customers. A nationally recognized company, Sanborn has multiple offices in the United States. For more information, visit www.sanborn.com. http://americasroof.com/wp/archives/2006/01/04/sophisticated-lidar-mapping-of-taum-sauk-disaster/
Tanner Toops, the last child injured in the Taum Sauk disaster has gone home.
Taum Sauk Supt. Jerry Toop’s other children — 3-year-old Tara and 7-month-old Tucker, were released from the hospital Dec. 18. Tanner was near cardiac arrest and suffered burns during efforts to warm him following his rescue.
The Toops were expected to return to Lesterville for a time, Davidson said. Volunteers there prepared the parsonage at the First Baptist Church as a temporary home for the family. The Toops attend church there.
Before the reservoir rupture, Jerry Toops had been promoted to assistant Ozarks district supervisor in Lebanon, Mo. The Toops said they expect to move after first returning to the Lesterville area, allowing their children to see friends and return to preschool for a time.
Last child injured in reservoir break leaves hospital
Taum Sauk costs:
Who should pay?
An editorial in the Columbia Daily Tribune says ratepayers AmerenUE certainly should not pay for the damage. It may be an issue in the next election. Democrat Attorney General Jay Nixon, who will run against Republican Blunt for governor next year, said it’s possible ratepayers could get stuck because of a bill signed by Blunt that allows utilities to charge customers for environmental costs.
After flood, our travel writer floated the Black River
Tom Uhlenbrock visited the Black River after the disaster and notes the damage is confined only to the river above Lesterville as a dam there held.
I believe in miracles”: Toops family describes flooding
By Tim O’Neil
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
Jerry’s description of the disaster:
“I was rolling around with the dressers and the bed and I was swimming. I came to the top and saw the roof, so I got on it. I knelt down and prayed. I prayed that they would be all right,” said Jerry Toops.
Volunteer firefighters found the family washed a quarter mile or so from their home some time after the floodwaters receded.
Jerry Toops said he had been separated from the others. Lisa Toops said she was with two of the three children until they were rescued.
He said he had been asleep when he heard his wife scream and had jumped up to try and rescue the kids when water roared in all around him. Eventually, he made his way to the floating roof, where he stayed as it swirled through the water until it disintegrated. He grabbed at trees until he could hold onto one.
“I believe in miracles, and this is one of them,” he said, adding that he found himself sitting in an ambulance, wondering if anyone would find the others. “I couldn’t believe they were bringing the others into the ambulance, but they were.”
Lisa Toops, 38, said she had fallen asleep with their infant after feeding him in the living room and managed to get to their oldest son before the water quickly filled the house.
She said she told Tanner, 5, to keep repeating, “Jesus, save us.” Still holding the infant, Tucker, Lisa Toops said, “Tanner was washed away. I got washed away… I turned around looking for Tanner and I started to hear him calling, ‘Mommy!’”
The Toops were married in 1997. He is from Clark County in far northeastern Missouri. She is from Raytown, a suburb of Kansas City, Mo.
Second public meeting planned on Johnson’s Shut-Ins
January 7, 2006
Reservoir that collapsed had leaks from start
January 7, 2006
AmerenUE’s Taum Sauk upper reservoir, which collapsed last month, had been shifting, sinking and leaking almost since it opened in 1963, according to federal inspection reports and correspondence released last week.
Ten years’ worth of inspectors’ reports, released by federal regulators last week, showed how the 55-acre, mountaintop reservoir required extensive patching to stem leaks and ongoing monitoring of the shifting earth. Ultimately, the kidney-shaped reservoir - and the rest of the Taum Sauk power plant - passed all federal inspections.
Concrete walls atop the earthen dam had subsided irregularly by a half-foot to 1.5 feet by 1997, inspection reports said. Although the state has no jurisdiction over the reservoir, Missouri’s top dam safety official said such uneven settling could have contributed to its failure.
The Taum Sauk Reservoir had a Niagra Falls style overflow on September 26 at the same spot that collapsed on December 14 — one day after the reservoir received an engineering award.
The St. Louis-Post Dispatch reports:
The Sept. 27 e-mail from Richard Cooper, superintendent of Ameren’s Taum Sauk Hydroelectric Plant, said the overtopping two days earlier had washed away rock at the base of the reservoir wall. Eroded trenches were a foot deep in some areas.
Cooper’s e-mail, sent to several Ameren supervisors, said employees described the incident as “Niagara Falls.”
“Overflowing the upper reservoir is obviously an absolute ‘NO-NO,’” Cooper’s e-mail said, noting that it would “cause eventual failure . . . Those kind of headlines we don’t need.”
The article notes Ameren the overflow to federal regulators.
The Post-Dispatch got the emails from Don Giljum, business manager for Operating Engineers Local 148, the union that represents Taum Sauk workers.
Dam expert Charles Morris, a civil engineer at the University of Missouri at Rolla, said any previous overtopping at Taum Sauk should have set off red flags.
“That structure was not designed to be overtopped. Period. If it did so, (Ameren) should have gone berserk,” Morris said. “If they knew about it, they were very negligent.”
Earlier articles had noted that the reservoir was leaking from the start and a liner had to be placed.
The Post-Dispatch quoted an Oct. 7 email from Cooper saying a gauge to monitor the reservoir was failing.
“This bend in the pipes gives us a false reading and causes the reservoir level to look lower than it actually is,” Cooper wrote. “Until these pipes can be re-attached we are lowering the pumpback shutdown setpoint to 1594 down from 1596. We want to give ourselves enough cushion so that we won’t pump over the reservoir walls.”
Further it notes:
At an elevation of 1,594 feet above sea level, employees thought the reservoir was within three feet of the crest, which is 1,597 feet.
But according to other Ameren data obtained by the Post-Dispatch, the instruments may have registered a 3-foot cushion that didn’t exist.
The data show the reservoir reaching an elevation of 1,594 feet at 5:08 a.m. on the morning of the failure. Four minutes later, pumping stopped — with water levels still at 1,594 feet. One minute after that, at 5:13 a.m., water levels dropped as the breach occurred.
The makes note of the USGS photographs UM-Rolla engineer Dave Hoffman who noted that gullies with grass growing below the reservoir indicated there had been breaches over time on the rim of the reservoir.
In a 2003 report, inspectors with a Chicago firm barely touched on the instrument problems, stating the instruments were “not well documented on drawings.” Yet FERC gave Ameren passing marks, even though inspectors found settlement and shifting of concrete panels around the northwest part of the kidney-shaped reservoir.
Also, Taum Sauk has never been monitored 24 hours a day. Most of Taum Sauk’s instruments are connected wirelessly to Ameren control stations in St. Louis and Osage.
In fact, Taum Sauk managers recently won an electrical engineering award that marveled at the way the plant was run via “remote control.”
Why Isn’t Ameren Showing Contrition Over Taum Sauk Disaster?
January 18 2006, 8:53 PM
You really have to wonder why Ameren has not been showing any contrition in the Taum Sauk disaster.
At some point you think you would have seen some Ameren quotes somewhere saying “we’re sorry.” But that hasn’t shown up in any of the media reports (although Ameren’s chief exec at least admitted in the Post-Dispatch that they would be responsible — see artcle at bottom).
Rarely do you see such black and white corporate malfeasance as the plant controlled wirelessly more than 100 miles away overflowed in September and was showing major problems with its monitoring equipment.
The irony of course is that the plant was seemingly a “green” solution to generating electricity as it didn’t pollute and and instead was self-maintaining as it pumped water up in off peak hours to let it go on peak hours.
But there’s nothing on the company’s web site except pretty pictures and a simple description in happier days.
The first acknowledgement of the disaster came on January 17 — more than a month after the December 14 collapse as Ameren noted the disaster might affect its earnings.
The official press release makes two mentions:
“Compared to 2005, earnings in 2006 are expected to benefit from the lack of a scheduled refueling and maintenance outage at our Callaway nuclear plant, continued solid power markets, improved plant operations and organic growth in our service territory,” said Gary L. Rainwater, chairman, chief executive officer and president of Ameren Corporation. “However, we anticipate that earnings in 2006 will be negatively impacted by increased coal and related transportation costs and the lack of the availability of our 440 megawatt Taum Sauk pumped-storage plant.”
and this (noting the company’s plans to rebuild):
The following factors, in addition to those discussed elsewhere in this release and in our filings with the SEC, could cause actual results to differ materially from management expectations as suggested by such forward-looking statements:
generation plant construction, installation, availability and performance, including costs associated with the Taum Sauk pump-storage plant incident and its future use;
Ameren Media Center Photos of Taum Sauk in Happier Days
Ameren Description of the Plant
AMEREN ANNOUNCES 2006 EARNINGS GUIDANCE Updates 2005 Earnings Guidance
January 17, 2006
Associated Press (via Columbia Tribune)
Other News Linkage:
Blunt, Nixon battle over reservoir investigation
January 18, 2006
Yesterday morning, Gov. Matt Blunt wrote to Attorney General Jay Nixon calling for him to initiate any possible civil or criminal litigation against the utility and to “punish any wrongdoing on the part of AmerenUE or any of its officials.”
That led Nixon to inform Missouri Department of Natural Resources director Doyle Childers that the governor had turned over “the investigation and resolution of all legal issues arising out of the Taum Sauk Reservoir’s breach” to the attorney general’s office. Nixon requested a copy of DNR’s findings by the end of the business day.
He also insisted that the DNR not communicate with AmerenUE, unless Nixon’s office cleared the communication in advance, because the governor had suggested criminal charges were possible against Ameren.
Later yesterday, Blunt told Nixon he had misinterpreted his instructions.
“I did not authorize you to take over any investigation, nor did I authorize you to attempt to usurp any of DNR’s authority or stop DNR from communicating with AmerenUE,” Blunt wrote.
Ameren wants to rebuild Taum Sauk
January 17, 2005
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
St. Louis-based Ameren said it is insured for the loss of the plant and damage to the park, but not having the 440-megawatt Taum Sauk Hydroelectric Plant available this year will cost the company about $14 million to $25 million in earnings, or 7 cents to 12 cents a share.
On Tuesday, Blunt and Sen. Jim Talent, R-Mo., sent letters to FERC, asking why its routine inspections in August found no signs of problems that led to the failure.
Talent’s spokesman, Rich Chrismer, said if the senator is not satisfied with FERC’s report, “he’s going to call for congressional hearings or additional investigation.”
Ameren has pledged to cooperate with investigators.
Spin Control: Ameren Blames It on Rita for September Taum Sauk Overflow
January 20 2006, 2:35 PM
A press release from Ameren says the September overflow at Taum Sauk was caused by waves from Hurricane Rita.
The release notes:
“At every step of the way, on and after Sept. 25, our employees took steps they believed were sufficient to protect the facility’s safety,” Voss says. “In hindsight, those steps proved inadequate to avoid the Dec. 14 overtopping that resulted in significant damage to the Johnson’s Shut-Ins state park and injury to a family of five.”
Here are key findings from AmerenUE’s initial investigation of the Sept. 25 event:
* Contrary to media reports, the Sept. 25 event did not cause the event of Dec. 14 and was not a result of pumping water over the top of the reservoir; instead, the water spilled on Sept. 25 was the result of wave action due to high winds from Hurricane Rita and slightly elevated reservoir levels. In addition, the company has found no evidence to indicate that water had ever been pumped over the top of the upper reservoir prior to Dec. 14.
* Following the Sept. 25 incident, the company reviewed instrumentation reports, discovered problems with the sensors indicating water levels in the upper reservoir and lowered set points for those water levels.
* AmerenUE did not report the wave action of Sept. 25 to FERC because the company did not believe that this condition was a reportable incident.
n FERC last inspected the facility in August 2005 before the wave action event on Sept. 25.
Voss also added that the company has always accepted full responsibility for the Dec. 14 breach.
Meanwhile the AP saw the logs of the September incident:
A worker “called and said the wind is blowing so hard it’s blowing big waves of water out of upper pond and flooding the road,” a log note read. Another stated, “The water is blowing out so hard, there (sic) afraid it will erode” the reservoir wall.
Ameren: Earlier spill at reservoir blamed partly on hurricane
AP via St. Louis Post-Dispatch
January 19, 2006
AmerenUE Cites Significant Differences between Sept. 25 Wave Action at Taum Sauk Upper Reservoir and Dec. 14 Overtopping/Flooding Incident
Official Ameren Press Release via PRNewswire
January 19, 2006
There are few tracking maps left for Hurricane Rita after it lost its punch and Tropical Storm status in eastern Arkansas. However the storm took a sharp turn to the right (east) and affected weather throughout the Midwest.
Meanwhile the disaster does not appear to have seriously hurt Ameren’s stock which was tradining higher than Standard & Poor’s and was affected by a general October mini crash than the December disaster.
Google News Headlines
"taum sauk" - Google News
Blunt wants Ameren charged for Taum Sauk breach - St. Louis Business Journal
Blunt Calls for Filing of Charges in Taum Sauk Collapse - Missourinet.com
Ameren wants to rebuild Taum Sauk - St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Taum Sauk reservoir spilled prior to last month's rupture - St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Warning given on Taum Sauk - Kansas City Star
Residents have Taum Sauk questions - Park Hills Daily Journal
Report Claims Utility Had Warning of Taum Sauk Problems - Missourinet.com
Missouri Dept. of Natural Resources Issues Order in Taum Sauk ... - digitalBURG.com
Mo. gives second order to Ameren for Taum Sauk - St. Louis Business Journal
Taum Sauk benefit raises $4,400 - Park Hills Daily Journal
Ameren: New Madrid Quake Not At Fault in Taum Sauk Disaster
January 25 2006, 6:46 PM
Ameren in a report to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission says it does not believe a 1.9 earthquake 100 miles to the southeast on the New Madrid fault played any role six hours later in the December 14, 2005, Taum Sauk Reservoir collapse.
The report notes:
Amerren does not beliee the earthquake contributed in way to the failure of the upper Taum Sauk reservoir rock fill dike or to the parapet wall. Further, as descibed blow, Ameren does not believe that this earthquake was ˇ°unusual.ˇ± However, in order to ensure full disclcousre, Ameren wanted to make Ferc aware of this event.
The quake in question might be dubbed the ˇ°Matthews Quakeˇ± because of its proximity to Matthews Missouri.
Google Map Showing Locations of Matthews and Ironton, Missouri
Full Report at Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (report is image of original however you can download the entire 242 page reprot ˇŞ 7 megs)
The New Madrid Fault ˇŞ site of the most powerful earthquake reported in ˇ°the Lower 48ˇĺ ˇŞ has quakes almost everyday and the report noted that in the six months preceding January 10 there had been 100 quakes on the fault in the range of 1.4 to 2.8.
Authorities note that if another quake on the size of the 1812 8.8 quake hits, it will destroy the entire Midwest from Memphis through St. Louis and on to Cincinnati because the porous soil is more conducive to transmitting waves than the rock based West Coast (and also because the Midwest seems to have virtually no quake preparations).
This of course gives rise to questions about the Taum Sauk Reservoir. Why would they build a reservoir on top of a mountain with only a rock filled dike ˇŞ particularly in area where thereˇŻs a lot of shaking involving those rocks?
Ameren Only Had to Check 4 Items At Taum Sauk Reservoir Once A Week
January 25 2006, 6:47 PM
Ameren has released its last inspection (Dec. 8, 2005) of the Taum Sauk Upper Reservoir that collapsed on Dec. 14.
Astonishingly for a structure that was once the definitive engineering marvel for Missouri, the inspection involved only four items and those items only had to be inspected once a week:
First aid kid in bldg. by phone - note needs, restock.
Gauge house - Check levels with staff gauges. Needs? Check battery chargers; check lights, relamp as needed. Check heaters during winter months.
Life-rings at observ. platform & gauge house - note needs.
Air, oil, water leaks - note in Comments
The report was submitted Jan. 10 to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission notes that there were no mechanical checks of the Upper Reservoir.
Ameren performed function checks on the level control insturmentation to verify their accuracy. Taum Sauk personnel performed functuional checks for the lower reservoir by comparing the level control readings against a staff gauge. For the upper reservoir, level control readings were compared against demarcation marks on the staff gauge mounted on the parapet wall.
Taum Sauk personnel performed these checks on a weekly basis s and recorded that the checks were completed ona document titled “Taum Sauk Plant Routine Inspection.” Any noteworthy observations were noted; quantitative data was not recorded.
As more and more comes out, it should be obvious that the designers ever dreamed that the power plant would be monitored by staff 100 miles away. When we visited the plant in 1969 it was a hive of activity. When we visited during the 1998 Highpointers Convention we didn’t see a single person — even at the museum.
Ameren’s Taum Sauk Chemicals Change Black River From Brown to Aqua But Not Clear
February 6 2006, 11:18 PM
Ameren is making much of its 500,000 gallon floculation treatment of the lower Taum Sauk reservoir to settle debris from the December 14 collapse that unleashed a billion gallon 12 minute Missouri tsunami on the normaly placid Black River.
The treatments changed the “Big Muddy” color of the Black River to aqua — but it is still not back to the crystal clear stream that was Missouri’s showpiece.
For three days starting Jan. 25, AmerenUE dumped about 70,000 gallons of alum and 430,000 gallons of sodium aluminate into the lower reservoir. Missouri DNR officials say they are unaware of any fish deaths as a result of the treatment.
Ameren got off lucky in the disaster. A dam at Lesterville held and kept the billion gallon wall of water from destroying the entire path of the scenic river.
Officials unsure when Black River will run clear again
February 4, 2006
AmerenUE Is Using Flocculates to Remove Suspended Clay from Lower Reservoir
February 6, 2006
Ameren Official Site
Ameren Trivializes Taum Sauk Disaster On New Website
February 6 2006, 11:20 PM
Nearly two months after Ameren nearly killed Taum Sauk superintent Jerry Troop and his family and young children in a 12-minute tsunami nightmare that washed them out of their home in the wee hours of the morning the utility has finally launched a website talking about the disaster.
As per usual Ameren is clumsy in its handling of the incident. It still shows no contrition or even an apology showing that it is at least aware that it destroyed the most beautiful spot in Missouri. The page is not linked from the main Ameren page.
Worse the website minimizes the tragedy to Taum Sauk Superintendent Jerry Toops whose home was completely obliterated in a wall of water that washed him and his family away and resulted in his young children being disfigured from hypothermia burns in the 30 degree temps.
Here is Ameren’s entire summary of the events from its lead page.
On Dec. 14, 2005, the AmerenUE Taum Sauk Plant experienced a breach in its upper reservoir that caused flooding and extensive damage in the Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park and the closing of one road.
The rupture in the northwest corner of the plant’s 1.5-billion-gallon upper reservoir caused water to flow downward. The company immediately implemented its emergency plan and assembled a multidisciplinary team of experts, company officials and consultants to analyze the event and determine next steps.
Currently, several state and federal regulatory agencies are on the site to help determine the cause of the breach. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) will issue a full report and share that publicly after it has been independently reviewed. That effort could take weeks. While we do this exhaustive analysis, Ameren is urging its employees, the media and the public, to avoid speculating about the cause of this incident.
Ameren has created this special Web site to keep the public up-to-date on restoration efforts.
There’s no mention that anybody was even hurt in this dry summary.
The only mention of any injury is in the FAQ and it trivializes the trauma the Toops endured.
3. Was anyone injured? What is their status?
A. A family of five was taken to a local hospital for observation and treatment. Three children were hospitalized, one for as long as 15 days. They have all been released from the hospital.
The FAQ have some interesting results:
Why is the plant operated remotely? How long has it been operated remotely?
The Taum Sauk plant has been operated remotely since it was first put into service in 1963. Consistent with industry standards, the Taum Sauk plant was designed to operate remotely. Day shift people are on site for maintenance and some operational duties.
If the plant had been fully staffed, would this incident have happened?
There is no indication that having the plant staffed around the clock would have made any difference in whether this event occurred. The plant is located approximately one mile away from the upper reservoir. An operator located at the Taum Sauk plant would have used the same indications for filling the reservoir as the operator at Osage Plant used. He would not have had any more information to prevent the event.
Meanwhile we continue to be puzzled that there’s virtually no outrage in the State of Missouri in the blogosphere. Have these people not discovered the power of the blog?
The only negative comment (other than those just simply posting headlines) we’ve found so far is from Fired Up Missouri which wonders why DNR took money from Ameren after it became apparent they were going to be fighting with the company over the destruction of Johnson Shut Ins State Park.
Every people get the government they deserve. If Missourians feel they are powerless against a utility that also operates a nuclear power plant in the state’s heart, then they deserve what happens.
Highpointers Club Jack Longacre successfully fought Ameren’s plans to build two more reservoirs on top of mountains near Taum Sauk shortly before he died in 2002.
Since I personally have had dealings with Park Superintendent Jerry Toop over the years and have hiked throughout the area on the Ozark Trail, I don’t take kindly to Ameren’s blythe “that’s business as usual” mentality.
I was bowled over by the Taum Sauk facility when I first visited it in the 1960s with my parents. It was the ultimate self-sustaining power plant that was a wonderful alternative to the sulfur St. Louis stench from coal fired plants there. I feel major betrayal that this green plant was so incompetently and corruptly handled.
It is inevitable that it will be rebuilt however Missourians need to lay down the law on what will be acceptable. First off, the reservoir itself is going to have to be totally rebuilt. Having a reservoir in a gravel wall with a plastic liner simply won’t work when it’s on top of a mountain 100 miles from the most poweful earthquake fault in the Lower 48. There needs to be some sort of spill way so that overtopping won’t occur again.
And Ameren needs to say it’s sorry when it destroys the state’s most beautiful state park and terrorizes its superintendent and his family.
AmerenUE launches Taum Sauk Web site
St. Louis Business Journal
AmerenUE Creates Special Web Site to Update Public on Johnson’s Shut-Ins, Taum Sauk Area Restoration Work
February 6, 2006
PR News Wire
"Every people get the government they deserve. If Missourians feel they are powerless against a utility that also operates a nuclear power plant in the state’s heart, then they deserve what happens."-roger
Yep just like the jews in 1930's and 1940's germany and russia; Cambodians with polpot.
always nice to see what an esoteric ass thinks, god knows all we missourians have to do is think about an ameren facility in reynolds county and make sure it gets 'cleaned' up. not any other issues to be concerned about.
other issues to be concerned about besides some damned old rhyolite boulders in the river is the river itself, caves, a fen (check out grasshopper hollow if ever around bunker) and the economy of lesterville which depends heavily on floaters.
will ameren rebuild maybe (i wouldn't, but i ain't no engineer), but if they do propose something watch the outcry that will occur. the news stations will again have a story, but as far as joe st.louis is concerned it's not like they are damming the meramac or something.
Ameren, which survived the bad press following the Taum Sauk disaster, is now talking bankruptcy sending its stock into a nose dive.
Ameren supplies power for almost all of Illinois outside of Chicago and more than half of populated Missouri. Its stock had been outperforming the S&P500 before the December 14 Taum Sauk disaster.
At issue is a desire by the company to increase rates in Illinois by 25 to 30 percent.
This is corporate gamesmanship and why Ameren must be watched carefully in how it handles the Taum Sauk disaster. They’re now setting the stage to wriggle their way out of responsibility for the disaster which promises to cost millions more than anybody has yet publicized.
The Herald Review notes;
Scott A. Cisel, president of Illinois energy delivery for Ameren, says the company knows a price increase of this magnitude will hit families and businesses hard. He says Ameren wants to work with state lawmakers to phase in the price hike over maybe five years, but the legislation to make that happen would need to finished this year, and time is running out.
He said credit rating agencies want a deal with lawmakers “within months” or they threaten to further lower AmerenIP, AmerenCIPS and AmerenCILCO’s credit ratings, already hovering just above junk status. That would dramatically drive up the cost of borrowing money for essential operations and could ultimately threaten the companies with bankruptcy.
“We don’t plan for that; there is no strategic plan for bankruptcy,” Cisel told the Herald & Review editorial board Monday. “But, in the worse case, that could be the fallout.”
Ameren paints grim power picture: Says it must be compensated fairly for delivering electricity or face severe financial problems
January 30, 2006
Herald & Review
Environmental groups are concerned that Ameren is going to use the Taum Sauk disaster as an excuse to build Missouri’s second nuclear power plant at its Callaway County site or perhaps will resurrect its ill fated plans to build two large pumped storage facilities on top of mountains by Taum Sauk.
Talk of a second Missouri nuke surfaced just a few days before the December 14 Taum Sauk disaster.
Ameren had filed a highly classified document entitled “Integrated Resource Plan” on its long range plans. However following the disaster Missouri regulators have sided with environmental groups to make those plans public.
The Callaway nuclear plant currently generates 1,143 megawatts incomparison to 350 megawatts at Taum Sauk. The nuclear plant accounts for 11 percent of Missouri’s power needs while hydroelectric plants such as Taum Sauk and the more famous Osage Power Plant at Lake of the Ozarks/Bagnell Dam generate around 1 percent.
Highpointers Club Founder and President Jack Longacre who lived on Taum Sauk successfully fought Ameren’s plans in 2001 to build the two new pumped storage facilities near Taum Sauk.
Mark Haim, of Mid-Missouri Peaceworks, said his group challenged the secrecy of AmerenUE’s long-range plans to ensure its expansion proposals are “not hidden from the public.” Peaceworks also wants to ensure that AmerenUE gives full consideration to more efficient utilization of energy and the generation of power from renewable sources.
Ken Midkiff, conservation chairman of the Ozark Chapter of the Sierra Club, said that group has been watching AmerenUE’s long-range plans since it learned a few years ago of the utility’s plan to create a hydro-electric plant atop Church Mountain that would be even larger than the similar and nearby Taum Sauk reservoir in southeast Missouri. Midkiff said such reservoirs amount to massive mountaintop “bathtub(s)” and destroy the landscape. In 2001, AmerenUE withdrew its application for a federal permit allowing the reservoir.
State regulators want AmerenUE to disclose plans
January 31, 2006
Ameren’s Callaway Plant Site
Power Analysis for Missouri
Missouri is mulling the possibilities of a Taum Sauk Disaster Museum similar to the Times Beach Dioxin Museum in St. Louis County.
The St. Louis Post Dispatch notes:
Dan Paige, deputy director of state parks for the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, said:
â€¦the state parks agency already has an interpretive group working on the Johnsonâ€™s Shut-Ins recovery effort, and it is not yet known what form an educational feature might take. But guided tours, literature and informational placards would likely be part of it. If so, the dam failure would become part of the parkâ€™s history.
â€śTheyâ€™ve already been down here and walked the park,â€ť Paige said. â€śJust throwing out ideas - What can we do, and what do we need to interpret with the changes that have happened down here?â€ť
They are already looking at things that need to be saved for educational purposes, Paige said, such as a camp grill that was twisted by the wall of water.
The images and methodology of the process of course evokes Ground Zero in New York City.
Missouriâ€™s most famous environmental disaster museum is the Times Beach Dioxin Superfund site in St. Louis County near Eureka.
Flickr Photos Show Human Impact of Taum Sauk Disaster
February 12 2006, 12:19 AM
Burningbird at Flickr has a gallery of photos that show the human consequences of the Taum Sauk reservoir disaster.
At the risk sensationalizing the heartache of Taum Sauk superintendent Jerry Toop whose family and young children were washed away, the pictures show the human aspect of that tragedy ranging from baby socks to broken bikes.
The famed waterproof tiles that were supposed to keep the dam from leaking.
All thatâ€™s left of Jerry Toops home (the white foundation on the right). Would you be pissed if your kids were in that house that washed away in less than 10 minutes?
I have posted a Google Earth tour of the Taum Sauk reservoir showing how the wall of water actually went upstream of the Ameren complex.
The December 14 tsunami flowed down a ravine to the northwest of the reservoir resulting in it hitting Johnson Shut Ins which is upstream from the power plant. If the tsunami had gone straight down Proffit Mountain to the Lower Reservoir it probably would have destroyed Ameren's 350 megawatt generator complex.
The tour is quite dramatic. I suggest you slightly tilt the map slightly to the horizon and increase the vertical exxageration to 3 (tools/options/vertical exaggeration).
You of course need Google Earth installed (free) and a high speed internet connection.
It's about 5 miles from Taum Sauk the Missouri highpoint and the Taum Sauk reservoir (which is actually on Proffitt Mountain). In between is Church Mountain where Ameren wanted to build two more pumped storage facilities.
Ameren had wanted to build two more reservoirs on Church Mountain to the right.
The Taum Sauk reservoir is about 100 mile equidistant from St. Louis to the northeast, the New Madrid Fault to the southeast (where a 1.9 quake hit about five hours before the collapse) and Bagnell Dam/Lake of the Ozarks from where it the plant was monitored.
Ameren has settled with Taum Sauk Supt. Jerry Toop whose family was washed away in the Dec. 14 collapse of the Taum Sauk Reservoir.
Shortly after 5 a.m. 1.5 billion gallons from the burst reservoir obliterated their home in less than 10 minutes and washed away Toops his wife Lisa and children Tanner, 5; Tara, 3; and Tucker, 7 months in subfreezing temperatures. All survived although Tanner was hospitalized with hypothermia burns for several weeks.
Neither AmerenUE nor Steve D. Burmeister, attorney for the Toops family, would release details of the settlement. Burmeister said monetary damages would not be made public, at the request of his clients.
<blockquote>“The Toops family wishes to thank everyone for their assistance over the last two months in aiding their family to get back to some degree of normalcy,” Burmeister said in a news release. “They wish to reiterate that Ameren UE has always been a good corporate citizen in Reynolds County. They reached out to (the Toops) family immediately … and have been very attentive to our family’s immediate needs.”
Burmeister said the family wants AmerenUE to rebuild the plant “in a fashion that will cause it to be operated safely.”
</blockquote> After flood, family settles with Ameren
By Elizabethe Holland
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
Ameren Announces First Quarter 2006 Earnings
MSN Money - USA
<strong>... </strong> and other natural phenomena; -- generation plant construction, installation and performance, including costs associated with the <strong>Taum </strong><strong>Sauk </strong> pumped-storage <strong>... </strong></p>
Repairs to Taum Sauk Were Delayed to Collect Bonus
May 13 2006, 9:56 PM
The news continues to be bad for Ameren as reports come out: repairs to known problems were delayed so staff could get bonuses, faulty materials were used. Meanwhile Gov. Blunt is suggesting Ameren extend the KATY bicycle trail on rail bed it owns in the state.
Reservoir report blames faulty sensors
St. Louis Post-Dispatch - MO, United States
Water-level sensors at AmerenUE's <strong>Taum </strong><strong>Sauk </strong> reservoir didn't work properly in the months leading up to a rupture that flooded Johnson's Shut-Ins State Park <strong>... </strong></p>
Utility should help extend Katy Trail
Kansas City Star - MO,USA
<strong>... </strong> A breach in the <strong>Taum </strong><strong>Sauk </strong> Reservoir on Dec. 14 flooded the popular park in southeast Missouri with 1.3 billion gallons of water. AmerenUE, a subsidiary of St. <strong>... </strong></p>
Taum Sauk Flap Over Jay Nixon's Accepting Ameren Donations
June 28 2006, 9:38 AM
Missouri residents are upset with revelations that state attorney general Jay Nixon accepted donations from Ameren even as he investigated the company's position in the Taum Sauk Disaster.
<!--more--> Jay Nixon can no longer be trusted
News-Leader.com - Springfield,MO,USA
<strong>... </strong> St. Louis utility giant Ameren, which Nixon is supposed to be investigating in the huge matter of the <strong>Taum </strong><strong>Sauk </strong> dam collapse. First <strong>... </strong>
Nothing wrong with taking political money from a party you are supposed to be investigating? Nothing wrong with taking money from the other side in a case? Craig Hosmer cannot expect to be taken seriously. That's what you get when you team up with Jay Nixon, I guess.
ST. LOUIS, MO (2006-08-01) The clean up effort near the Taum Sauk reservoir will probably kill some fish. The Department of Natural Resources says fish are likely to die as water levels drop at Taum Sauk's lower reservoir.
The lake is being lowered so crews can clean up sediments deposited there by the failure last year of the upper Taum Sauk reservoir.
Ameren owns the reservoirs, and contractors have so far rescued more than 2,500 fish as the water levels drop.
Day by day, foot by foot, the water level is dropping in the Lower Taum Sauk Reservoir.
The drop is due to a “draw down,” which is part of AmerenUE’s plan to remove sediment left from the Dec. 14 failure of the Upper Reservoir. Draining of the dam began Thursday and could take up to five months to complete. The utility company plans to remove sediment from the entire reservoir.
Normally, the deepest part of the reservoir is 749 feet. A previous draw down, along with evaporation, had dropped the level to 733 feet. During this process, the water level will be lowered to a depth of 705 feet.
“They’re trying to do it very carefully, said Susan Gallagher, an AmerenUE spokesman. “They are closely monitoring the water for quality, turbidity level, habitat and other factors. They are dropping the level about one foot a day, but if the cloudiness gets too high they will halt until settles.”
The Missouri Department of Natural Resources, Missouri Department of Conservation and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission reviewed the plan before giving approval.
The plan calls for stabilizing the bottom, scraping the clay sediment from the bottom of the reservoir and hauling it upland to AmerenUE property for disposal. The company will “hydroseed” areas to establish growth of water plants and also will install buffers and silt fencing to stabilize areas waiting to be excavated after the water level is lowered.
AmerenUE officials mentioned the excavation plan in January, when they added flocculant (alums) to the reservoir to drag suspended clay sediment to the bottom of the reservoir. The water clarity improved at first, but wave action caused by wind, stirred up the clay particles. Because the particles are so light, they remain suspended in the water instead of settling back down.
During removal of the sediment in the lower reservoir, some sediment will escape into the East Fork of the Black River. The water quality monitoring is designed to ensure as little sediment as possible is released into the river, Gallagher said.
Analysis has shown that water quality upstream of the reservoir has improved more quickly than the water in the Lower Reservoir.
“Our intent is to permanently remove sediments that are affecting water clarity in the Black River,” Mike Menne, Ameren vice president of the company’s environmental, safety and health, said in a prepared statement.
Menne added that Ameren and its contractors will take all practical measures to prevent further degradation of the river, but releasing some additional sediments downstream will be unavoidable from time to time.
On Dec. 14, a breach in the Upper Taum Sauk Reservoir sent approximately 1.5 billion gallons of water rushing down Proffit Mountain and into Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park. The raging waters swept the ranger and his family from their home, then demolished the building. The flood continued down the mountain, carrying tons of sediment and debris and eventually contaminating the lower reservoir and Black River.
Since then, AmerenUE has been working to clean up and repair the park, lower reservoir and the Black River.
Opposing sides should start acting professionally.
Missourians are going to be really tired of the race for governor by the time the November election gets here. Unfortunately, we don't vote for governor in November.
Election day for this race is nearly two and a half years away. We know who the likely candidates will be: incumbent Republican Gov. Matt Blunt against Democratic Attorney General Jay Nixon.
That contest promises to cast shadows over much of state government's work for the next two years. The current unnecessary unpleasantness over the investigation into Ameren Corp.'s liability in the Taum Sauk Reservoir breach is just a bitter foretaste of what's to come.
The story so far:
A dam holding one billion gallons of water collapsed in December, flooding the Johnson's Shut-Ins State Park.
The Reynolds County prosecuting attorney asked Nixon to investigate the matter as an independent special prosecutor. Nixon's investigation may lead to criminal and civil charges being filed against Ameren.
Earlier this month, it was revealed that Ameren Corp. donated $19,000 in campaign contributions to Nixon's gubernatorial campaign.
At that time, Doyle Childers, director of the Department of Natural Resources, asked Nixon to remove himself from the case.
We did not think it was necessary for Nixon to do that then, and we still don't. The solution, which we said at the time, was for Nixon to return the money. He did. He also pointed out that Gov. Blunt had similar financial links to Ameren.
That should have been the end of the spat. The DNR should have resolved to work with the legal professionals in Nixon's office. Instead, this past week Childers announced that since Nixon would not remove himself, he was taking him off the case and lawyers in his office would work independently on the case.
This move does not change Nixon's course of action at all, said John Fougere, a spokesman for the attorney general's office. Fougere stressed that Childers has no authority to take Nixon off the case.
The action produces a duplication of effort that is not in the best interests of Missouri citizens.
Childers explained he isn't satisfied that Nixon gave the money back to Ameren because he expects that Ameren will simply make another donation in the future.
"Why should the citizens of this state count on someone to represent them and represent their interests when it was obvious that it was only with great reluctance that he returned the money?" Childers said in an interview. "It was too much for me to stomach. It just stinks to high heaven."
Yet, Childers' boss Matt Blunt's hands are not clean either when it comes to dealing with Ameren.
The Democratic Party issued a press release on Friday detailing $86,601 that Ameren had donated to either Matt Blunt's gubernatorial campaign funds or Republican committees since 2003. The Democrats also charged that the lobbying relationship between the governor's brother, Andy Blunt, and Ameren is affecting the way the governor is directing his political appointee Childers to handle the situation.
"It is crystal clear that Matt Blunt is doing everything he can to try and seize control of this investigation so that he can protect his brother's client, Ameren UE," Missouri Democratic Party spokesmen said in a statement.
Crystal clear? Hardly.
This whole situation is being muddied through political grandstanding.
We would expect that professionals in the attorney generals' office and the DNR would work most efficiently if they work together. Unfortunately, that's not happening. Meanwhile, people will grow more cynical about Missouri politics.