FERC authorizes operation of rebuilt 408-MW Taum Sauk

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has authorized AmerenUE to resume normal project operations at the 408-MW Taum Sauk pumped-storage project whose upper reservoir collapsed in 2005 in eastern Missouri.

FERC Regional Engineer Peggy Harding wrote AmerenUE April 1, reviewing the utility’s request to resume generation at the rebuilt pumped-storage project (No. 2277). (HydroWorld 5/8/09)

“Through participation in all phases of the design and construction of this project and as a result of our review of all documentation provided in support of your request, you may begin normal project operations,” Harding wrote.

AmerenUE provided FERC a final design and construction report dated March 24 that included certifications from the utility and its design engineer and quality control manager that the project was constructed as designed and in accordance with approved plans and specifications. It also submitted a dam performance and instrumentation report that detailed the satisfactory performance of the rebuilt upper reservoir during a test refill program in March.

AmerenUE reported it completed a successful test March 20 of the upper reservoir level control and protection system, which is designed to provide adequate and redundant safeguards to ensure safe operation through the reservoir’s full range of operations.

Paul C. Rizzo Associates Inc., AmerenUE’s design engineer and quality control manager, provided FERC a commissioning notice to operate the project March 26.

Taum Sauk has not operated since the reservoir’s mountaintop ring dam breached Dec. 14, 2005, releasing 1.4 billion gallons of water down the Black River, injuring nine people, and damaging property, including Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park.

An investigation blamed the breach on overtopping of the dam due to improperly installed and maintained water level monitors and emergency backup sensors, as well as poor construction practices and inadequate attention to dam safety. A Missouri Public Service Commission probe cited a failure of utility management for the breach.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced in May 2009 that it would conduct additional testing of Missouri’s Clearwater Lake, which it claimed was fouled by the Taum Sauk failure.

The Corps’ Little Rock, Ark., District had filed a federal court suit in December 2008, seeking damages due to sediment and debris the Corps claimed was dumped into Clearwater Lake. However, the U.S. attorney dismissed the case with Corps approval. Federal regulations gave the Corps a year to refile the suit if testing of the lake found sufficient damage to justify action.

For more FERC news, click here.

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