State orders more clean-up; injured child improving

Thursday, December 22, 2005

ST. LOUIS -- A week after a reservoir break in Southeast Missouri, the state on Wednesday ordered additional cleanup. Meanwhile, a child injured when a wall of water struck his home improved to fair condition.

Gov. Matt Blunt directed the Missouri Department of Natural Resources to issue a second order to AmerenUE, telling the utility to take additional steps to address sediment and debris removal near the Taum Sauk reservoir failure.

"Time is of the essence in addressing this issue," Blunt said.

The state is working to guarantee the environmental integrity of the Black River and the state park, called Johnson's Shut-Ins, following the break, Blunt said.

Jessica Robinson, a spokeswoman for Blunt, said the order essentially put into writing what the state and Ameren verbally agreed to at a meeting on Tuesday.

Ameren spokeswoman Susan Gallagher said the company was reviewing the materials and has already committed to cleaning up the area.

Also Wednesday, SSM Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital spokesman Bob Davidson said 5-year-old Tanner Toops, injured after the reservoir break, was upgraded to fair condition and moved out of pediatric intensive care. Specific details of his injuries have not been released.

Tanner and two siblings were injured when a deluge of water swept away their home at Johnson's Shut-Ins State Park Dec. 14. The boy's sister Tara, 3, and brother Tucker, 7 months, were discharged from the hospital in St. Louis on Sunday.

The children's parents are park superintendent Jerry Toops and his wife, Lisa, whose home near Lesterville was destroyed after a section of wall around a mountaintop reservoir toppled and unleashed about 1 billion gallons of water.

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