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When a Reservoir Collapses...

Finally found an "after" aerial photo.

About 1,000,000,000 gallons escaped on Dec 14, 2005.

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission levvied their highest fine ever--15 million--30 times the 2nd highest.

To nearly everyone's amazement, there were no humans to notice that the reservoir had been overfilling each night despite the fact that there was a known defective level sensor.

Here's a <A href="http://www.ago.mo.gov/video/2005/121905taumsaukdam.mpg">video</A> as well.

The utility company involved, Ameren, "accidentally" included the $30 million fine as part of justification for their recent rate increase request. They claimed it was a clerical error.

This summer a severe thunderstorm in the St. Louis area cut power to millions of their customers--100s of thousands for over a week. Similar situation with an ice storm early this winter that also affected the St. Louis area.

Then it was revealed that the utility had greatly reduced their tree trimming budget for the last few years...

Head of the MO Public Service Commission now says that instead of a rate increase there should be a rate reduction due to already excessive profits! Same commissioner recently said that Ameren was spending too much time concentrating on Wall Street than on Main Street.

This is the very same utility who was the chief lobbier for a <A href="http://www.senate.mo.gov/05info/billtext/tat/SB179.htm">2005 utility rate scheme</A> that "adjusts" rates because of "weather and conservation". My state senator insisted that the language was inserted after Ameren essentially re-wrote the initial version of the law that he had seen. The 2006 <A href="http://www.senate.mo.gov/06info/BTS_Web/Bill.aspx?SessionType=R&BillID=21442">attempt to remove the word "conservation"</A> appears to have died.


  • Mike T., Swampeast MO
    Mike T., Swampeast MO Member Posts: 6,928

    The sad story and corruption continue.

    Sensors around the upper perimeter were removed before investigators ever arrived. The sensor at the bottom of the reservoir (I have to presume it worked via pressure) was known to be defective and/or unused for a significant (years?) period of time.

    In sworn testimony everyone admits that the sensors were raised after Union Electric (MO company) merged with Ameren (IL company) and in conjuction with deregulation that allowed them to sell the output of this "peak demand" facility on the open market. Remember: this was a big bath tub on top of a mountain that was filled every night via pumping and drained every day to generate electricity to meet peak demand--supposedly the first of it's kind in 1963? when it was built.

    Someone has finally admitted to removing the sensors after the collapse but get this--"no problem" because they marked the locations with black tape--yes black tape!

    Nobody however will admit to raising them, let alone giving the orders to raise. Latest sworn testimony from a long-time engineer said the order came from accountants with ZERO knowledge of operation but he did not identify anyone specifically.

    Other sworn testimony that the sensors were raised so high as to be ineffective as they resulted in overtopping of the reservoir on a regular basis. No human watchman in the wee hours of the morning when it would overflow. I can only assume that the perimiter wasn't perfectly level (understandable) and that the sensors had raised so high on the highest areas and removed from the lowest that overflows could occur and once such happened it only resulted in deterioration of the lowest walls.

    The disaster effectively destroyed one of the most beautiful and popular state parks in MO. It remains closed to anything but curiosity seekers. No camping, no picknicking, no swimming.
  • Timco
    Timco Member Posts: 3,040

    Thanks for the update. I remember when you posted the original disaster. Will or has this thing be rebuilt? Maybe use a really big hard-plastic liner like you can buy at home depot? The fine will likely be appealed, and lowered to $100 or less, but it is good to see the company being held accountable. As with Mt. St. Helens in WA years ago, it will regrow.

    Just a guy running some pipes.
  • Mike T., Swampeast MO
    Mike T., Swampeast MO Member Posts: 6,928

    Insurance has paid for the repairs and rebuild should it begin.

    A "liner" was added 2-3 years before the collapse.

  • Steamhead (in transit)
    Steamhead (in transit) Member Posts: 6,688
    You mean

    the governmment is doing something right?

    Hard to believe!

    Bet the utility pushes to get that PUC guy replaced.

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This discussion has been closed.