Corps plans more testing of lake below Taum Sauk breach

The Corps of Engineers plans additional testing of Missouri’s Clearwater Lake, which it claimed was fouled by the 2005 failure of the 408-MW Taum Sauk pumped-storage project’s upper reservoir.

The Corps’ Little Rock, Ark., District filed suit in December 2008 in U.S. District Court at Cape Girardeau, seeking damages from hydro project licensee Union Electric Co. of St. Louis, doing business as AmerenUE. (HNN 1/9/09) In its suit, the Corps claimed the breach of the reservoir dumped sediment and debris into Clearwater Lake.

However, on April 13, the assistant U.S. attorney dismissed the case without prejudice, with the Corps’ approval. Federal regulations provide the Corps one year from the dismissal to refile the suit, should it so choose.

�This should allow sufficient time for additional testing of Clearwater Lake,� Corps spokesman P.J. Spaul said May 5. �We intend to run sediment ranges and take core samples over the next few months and then evaluate the results.�

In its suit, the Corps said it wanted damages and other relief from AmerenUE’s negligence in operation of Taum Sauk (No. 2277) that led to failure of the reservoir. Corps said an unknown amount of sediment and debris was released into the Black River and Clearwater Lake downstream, reducing Clearwater Lake’s storage capacity and life span.

AmerenUE disagreed with the Corps’ arguments.

Taum Sauk has not operated since the reservoir’s ring dam breached, releasing 1.4 billion gallons of water down the Black River, injuring nine people, and damaging property. A Missouri Public Service Commission probe cited a failure of utility management for the breach.

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