Nixon sues Ameren over Taum Sauk breach

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon on Wednesday filed a lawsuit against Ameren Corp., asking the state's largest utility to pay compensation and punitive damages for negligence that resulted in the Dec. 14, 2005, breach of the Taum Sauk reservoir.

"This was one of the worst man-made disasters in Missouri's history, and our lawsuit alleges a long history of decisions by Ameren and its employees that led to this catastrophe," Nixon said in a statement.

The lawsuit, filed in St. Louis Circuit Court, comes a day before the one-year anniversary of the breach.

A spokeswoman for Ameren did not return a phone call seeking comment.

The lawsuit came a day after the Missouri Department of Natural Resources announced it had offered a proposed settlement over civil claims involving the breach that spilled 1 billion gallons of water from Ameren's hydroelectric plant atop Profitt Mountain in southeast Missouri.

No one was killed but the raging water nearly destroyed Johnson's Shut-Ins State Park and injured a family five.

Nixon on Tuesday criticized the DNR proposal, saying it didn't do enough for those closest to Taum Sauk.

The DNR plan calls for Ameren to either give up or share two properties that DNR officials believe could provide ample recreation -- the old Rock Island Railroad corridor and Church Mountain, both of which are owned by Ameren.

The rail corridor covers 47 miles and runs from the west-central Missouri town of Windsor west to Pleasant Hills, near Kansas City, and could be used for a hiking and biking trail. Church Mountain sits next to Profitt Mountain. Ameren owns the entire 1,400-acre mountain and once considered another hydroelectric plant there. DNR would use it for undetermined recreational use.

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