The plant's 1.5-billion-gallon upper reservoir appears to have a rupture in the northwest corner causing water to flow downward and resulting in the closing of Route N. At this point the basin is essentially drained. The 300-acre lower reservoir is slightly higher than its normal level but is intact and within normal volumes. A team has been assembled to investigate the reason for the failure.
The incident appeared to have occurred around 5:30 a.m. today with the upper reservoir at its normal level. At this point, it appears that there was no failure of equipment used to move water upward or any evidence of foul play. "We have implemented our emergency flooding plan and local authorities, including all emergency officials, have been notified. More than two dozen senior AmerenUE managers, engineers and specialists are at the scene, investigating the incident; clearly, public safety is our top concern," says Plant Superintendent Rick Cooper. "We have nothing yet to report on the extent of the damage or on any impact on nearby homes or the welfare of local residents."
Built in 1963, AmerenUE's Taum Sauk is a "pumped-storage" hydroelectric plant. It stores water from the Black River in the upper reservoir, built atop 1,590- foot-high Proffit Mountain, and releases the water to generate electricity when power is needed. The plant employs 12. All are accounted for and uninjured. The water flows down a mile-long tunnel inside the mountain, turning turbine- generators to produce electricity. When power demand is low, the same turbines run in reverse to pump water back to the upper reservoir.
AmerenUE is a subsidiary of St. Louis-based Ameren Corporation. Ameren companies serve 2.3 million electric customers and 900,000 natural gas customers in a 64,000-square-mile area of Missouri and Illinois.
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