Nixon won’t file criminal charges against Ameren in Taum Sauk case

Saturday, May 19, 2007 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 10:50 a.m. CST, Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Mark Weatherford, center, and Mike Stirts of Mactec Inc. remove sediment deposited by the billion gallons of flood water at Johnson's Shut-Ins State Park near Lesterville on Feb. 10, 2007.

ST. LOUIS — Attorney General Jay Nixon announced Friday he will not pursue criminal charges against Ameren Corp. over the December 2005 collapse of the Taum Sauk reservoir, which destroyed much of Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park in Reynolds County.

Nixon said he made the decision after reviewing the investigative report from the Missouri State Highway Patrol and discussing the matter with Gov. Matt Blunt on Friday.

He said he reviewed thousands of pages contained in the Highway Patrol investigative report.

Nixon and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources continue to pursue a civil settlement with Ameren, which has accepted responsibility for the disaster that spilled more than 1 billion gallons of water over the park, devastating the area and seriously injuring a family of five.

“While the Highway Patrol found no suspects to charge criminally in its investigation, it is clear that Ameren repeatedly put profit over safety,” Nixon said. “For this they will be held accountable.”

In a written statement, Ameren said: “We have said all along we did not believe there was criminal liability. Now that this issue has been resolved, we are optimistic that this will lead to a unified settlement proposal from the state.”

Ameren said it believes progress was made possible by interested parties meeting in Blunt’s office Friday. The company said it hopes they “continue working together toward a unified settlement proposal.” Previously, Nixon and the DNR had been working separately on settlement proposals, prompting Ameren to say last month it was caught in the middle of a game of “political football.”

Blunt said he was pleased by Nixon’s decision.

“Now that the attorney general has announced his decision in the criminal case, I believe we are closer than ever to a settlement that allows Missouri to move forward,” Blunt said.

“Now, we can all move forward. I am committed to working with all parties to make certain that Missouri is fully compensated for the Taum Sauk destruction so the communities affected by this disaster may move forward.”


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