Experts to investigate breach at Taum Sauk hydroelectric plant

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On December 14, 2005

A hazards-mitigation team from UMR and the U.S. Geological Survey plan to assess this morning’s reservoir breach at a hydroelectric power plant in southeast Missouri to help determine the cause of the incident.

The team, composed of faculty and staff from UMR’s Natural Hazards Mitigation Institute and the U.S. Geological Survey’s Mid-Continent Geographic Sciences Center in Rolla, planned to arrive at the site by early Thursday morning (Dec. 15, 2005), says Dr. Neil Anderson, professor of geological sciences and engineering at UMR and director of the Natural Hazards Mitigation Institute. The team will be led by David Hoffman, associate research engineer of civil, architectural and environmental engineering at UMR and former chief engineer for Missouri’s Dam and Reservoir Safety Program.

The UMR-USGS group will help federal and state regulatory agencies and officials from the power company determine the cause of the breach and come up with possible solutions, Anderson says.

The breach at AmerenUE’s Taum Sauk Lake Hydroelectric Plant occurred at about 5:30 a.m. Wednesday (Dec. 14, 2005). The plant was built in 1963 atop Proffit Mountain, which is adjacent to Taum Sauk Mountain, Missouri’s highest peak.

According to media reports, AmerenUE officials said the breach occurred at the northwest corner of the reservoir that holds back 1.5 billion gallons of water from the Black River. It wasn’t clear why the breach occurred.

Other UMR faculty on the team include Dr. Ronaldo Luna, a geotechnical engineering expert and associate professor of civil, architectural and environmental engineering at UMR; Dr. Jeffrey D. Cawlfield, professor and chair of geological sciences and engineering, and a member of the Missouri Dam and Reservoir Safety Council; and Dr. Louis Ge, assistant professor of civil, architectural and environmental engineering.

The team will also include experts from the USGS Mid-Continent Geographic Sciences Center, says Emitt C. Witt, director of the center. Staff from the USGS Water Science Center, also based in Rolla, are already on the site, Witt says.

The UMR-USGS venture is part of a cooperative agreement between the two organizations to combine expertise in assessing natural disasters. Earlier this fall, a similar response team visited the site of levee failures in New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.


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On December 14, 2005. Posted in News