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Ameren to pay $15 million fine over Taum Sauk

Taum Sauk reservoir.
Taum Sauk reservoir.

By Maria Hickey, KWMU

St. Louis, MO. – AmerenUE has agreed to pay $15 million as part of a federal settlement over the Taum Sauk reservoir collapse.

The settlement includes a $10 million civil penalty, the largest the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has ever issued over a hydroelectric incident. The other $5 million will be used to enhance the area around Taum Sauk.

FERC spokeswoman Celeste Miller says that's on top of the money spent to clean up the area following last December's breach.

"It's going to be used to improve the area in the vicinity of the project," Miller said. "It will not be used for restoration. It will be used to improve the area."

More than a billion gallons of water was dumped on Johnson's Shut-In State Park when the reservoir was breached.

FERC found AmerenUE committed 15 violations prior to the December breach, including failing to notify the commission about safety concerns.

As part of the settlement the company does not have to admit or deny FERC's findings.

Ameren spokesman Tim Fox says the company worked with FERC to come to the agreement.

"This is a fine that we accept that we worked constructively with the FERC to arrive at, that we assume responsibility from day one and continue to work with the state and others to repair the damage," Fox said.

In a statement, overnor Matt Blunt said the federal penalties don't address the breach's affect on Missouri: "It is an encouraging start that Ameren is willing to acknowledge in its settlement with the federal government that the local community and the recreational opportunities of all Missourians have been significantly harmed," Blunt said. "However, to fully compensate the state of Missouri and its citizens, significantly more will be needed."

Fox says the company has spent $44 million and will continue to help with clean-up costs.