Environmental groups criticize plan to rebuild Taum Sauk

ST. LOUIS | Environmental regulators and activists criticized parts of Ameren Corp.’s plan to rebuild the Taum Sauk reservoir in public comments submitted to federal regulators this week.

The comments were filed Monday and Tuesday with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which is deciding whether to let Ameren rebuild the mountaintop reservoir in rural southeast Missouri.

The comments focused on FERC’s assessment of the environmental impact of Ameren’s plan to rebuild the 55-acre reservoir, which feeds water into a nearby hydroelectric plant. This week marked the deadline to submit those public comments to FERC.

FERC regulates the reservoir, which collapsed in December 2005, devastating the nearby Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park and injuring a family of five. FERC is considering Ameren’s plan to tear down and rebuild the 1960s-era reservoir in a way the St. Louis-based company says will meet modern safety standards.

Ameren’s rebuilding plan calls for the reservoir’s earthen walls to be replaced by a concrete dam. The new design also calls for overflow release valves in the dam that could prevent catastrophic overtopping.

The Missouri Department of Natural Resources and Department of Conservation both submitted letters saying they would like to see tweaks made to FERC’s assessment of the environmental impact before Ameren is allowed to rebuild the reservoir.