ST. LOUIS, April 30 /PRNewswire/ -- AmerenUE officials today stressed that it's their belief that the Johnson's Shut-Ins State Park can be opened for day use this summer if all parties -- including state agencies -- work together to make the park available to Missouri's citizens.
AmerenUE has been working diligently for the past 15 months to restore and repair the damage to the park resulting from the Taum Sauk Reservoir breach.
"We believe the park can and should be reopened for more extensive public use later this summer, including swimming in the Shut-Ins," says AmerenUE President and Chief Executive Officer Thomas R. Voss. "However, that will take a cooperative effort by all parties. At AmerenUE, we are ready and willing to discuss this with all pertinent agencies."
AmerenUE believes a safe and restored river system, shut-ins access and security controls can be in place so that portions of the park can be opened by July 1. Ongoing construction activities can be segregated from public use areas so that restoration activities can continue uninterrupted.
This summer, visitors to the park would be able to enjoy the newly rebuilt park store, newly restored picnic areas and a boardwalk that provides access to areas where they can enjoy swimming in the shut-ins.
Over the past 15 months, the company has moved to restore areas affected by the breach of the Taum Sauk upper reservoir. Since the day of the Dec. 14, 2005, breach, AmerenUE and its contractors have:
-- removed nearly 15,000 truckloads of material from the site; -- restored the delicate "fen" -- a unique and sensitive forested wetlands with distinct features and vegetation -- crews literally removed debris and silt by hand. -- worked to improve water quality in the lower reservoir and Black River; -- graded and seeded the campground area in Johnson's Shut-Ins, rebuilt the camp store and repaired the boardwalks.
Meanwhile, the company has supported the local economy, settling thousands of dollars worth of claims, conducting an aggressive advertising campaign to promote tourism in the Taum Sauk area, and launching an award-winning Web site to give local businesses a way to reach a range of audiences.
Beyond the opening of the park for day use this summer, Voss added that AmerenUE has made no secret that the company wants to settle all issues related to the breach.
"We have made it clear we are ready to come to the table on settlement issues, but we need to know who speaks for the state," says Voss. "We are running out of time. Critical decisions have to be made soon."
He said a prompt settlement will ensure that the ongoing park restoration work will not be interrupted and will increase the likelihood that the Taum Sauk Plant will be rebuilt. Both the park and an operating Taum Sauk Plant are critical to the future economic vitality of Reynolds County and surrounding areas.
"We have tried to communicate about all this with all state agencies, and we will continue to do so," said AmerenUE's top executive.
AmerenUE is a subsidiary of St. Louis-based Ameren Corporation. Ameren companies serve 2.4 million electric customers and one million natural gas customers in a 64,000-square-mile area of Missouri and Illinois.
Built in 1963, AmerenUE's Taum Sauk is a "pumped-storage" hydroelectric plant. It stored water from the Black River in an upper reservoir, built atop 1,590-foot-high Proffit Mountain, and released the water to generate electricity when power was needed. The water flowed down a mile-long tunnel inside the mountain, turning turbine-generators to produce electricity. When power demand was low, the same turbines ran in reverse to pump water back to the upper reservoir.
On December 14, 2005, the AmerenUE Taum Sauk Plant experienced a breach in its 1.5 billion-gallon upper reservoir that caused flooding in the Johnson's Shut-Ins area.
CONTACT: Susan Gallagher, +1-314-554-2175, or Tim Fox, +1-314-554-3120,
both for AmerenUE
Web site: http://www.ameren.com/