January 18, 2006

Missouri governor seeks probe of reservoir flood

KANSAS CITY, Missouri (Reuters) - Missouri's governor wants
a federal agency to look into whether it is partly to blame for
a reservoir breach last month that released a torrent of water
and injured a family, his office said on Wednesday.

Republican Gov. Matt Blunt sent a letter to Federal Energy
Regulation Commission (FERC) Chairman Joseph Kelliher on
Tuesday asking the agency to determine if it provided proper

FERC oversees the 55-acre (22-hectare) power plant
reservoir that feeds a 440-megawatt Ameren Corp. plant. FERC
officials checked the mountaintop reservoir in August last year
and reported no problems, the governor's office said.

Blunt also has asked Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon to
consider filing civil or criminal charges against Ameren.

"I am deeply disturbed by the shocking lack of oversight,"
Blunt said. "This disaster put lives at risk and could have
been significantly worse had it occurred in the summer with a
park full of campers."

FERC spokesman Bryan Lee said the agency was already
investigating the incident.

"We will be very open as to what contributed to the event,"
Lee told Reuters. "It is premature to reach any conclusion at
this time."

The reservoir atop Proffit Mountain suffered a breach in a
berm in mid-December that sent 1.5 billion gallons (5.7 billion
litres) of water cascading down the mountainside in southeast

The torrent swept vehicles off a road, then entered a state
park where it destroyed the park superintendent's residence,
seriously injuring his three children. Some 100 people were
evacuated from the rugged area.

Officials have said they believe monitoring instruments
that were supposed to regulate the water level in the reservoir