Deal with Ameren UE sells out protection of Church Mountain

Deal with Ameren UE sells out protection of Church MountainTaum Sauk reservoir
By Susan R. Hagan and Michael R. Sutton
12/05/2007

As Reynolds County citizens and as leaders of the East Ozarks Audubon
Society, the area's largest environmental organization, we are dismayed
by the settlement terms between the state of Missouri and AmerenUE over
Ameren's failed Taum Sauk reservoir.

What happened to Gov. Matt Blunt's original proposal that the company
grant the state a 50-year lease on Church Mountain as part of a
settlement? In the agreement announced last week, the government gets
only a "right of first refusal" that would allow the state to purchase
Church Mountain should AmerenUE decide to sell it. This seems to
indicate that AmerenUE will pursue plans to build a second
hydroelectric plant on Church Mountain. (Contractors working on
rebuilding the collapsed Taum Sauk plant have been talking about this
all year.)

AmerenUE put profits ahead of safety in running its plant, but what
penalty has it paid? Insurance is covering most of the costs of the
restoration at Johnson's Shut-Ins State Park and for rebuilding the
existing plant. AmerenUE even is using its remediation and restoration
work for PR purposes, as if the penalties it is paying demonstrate
good-heartedness.

Gov. Blunt rightly has called the Taum Sauk catastrophe the "worst
man-made disaster in the history of Missouri." He also has acknowledged
that some of Missouri's natural treasures were lost forever as a
result. But he now says nothing about the similar treasures next door
to the disaster site in pristine Taum Sauk Valley and on Church
Mountain.

These treasures also would be lost forever if AmerenUE builds a second
hydroelectric operation there. Protection of this beautiful valley and
the mountaintop seemed to be part of a fitting price for the damages
done at Taum Sauk. The extension of the Katy Trail that the settlement
provides is nice, but that's on the other side of the state, not in
Reynolds County.

We did not oppose AmerenUE's plans to resurrect the collapsed Taum Sauk
plant, but we and other concerned citizens throughout the state will
fight every inch of the way its destructive plans for Church Mountain
and Taum Sauk Valley. A hydroelectric facility on Church Mountain would
do virtually nothing for the state's electrical needs, but it would be
a source of easy profits for the company. Shame on any politician who
would support AmerenUE in such a colossal misadventure.

If AmerenUE wants to build more pumped storage plants in Missouri, it
should consider using some of the state's numerous abandoned mine
sites, as has been done successfully elsewhere. Construction of
underground pumped-storage plants would benefit the rural counties
suffering from mine closures, and the plants' operations would preserve
Missouri's beautiful natural heritage — instead of creating eyesores on
mountaintops.

Susan R. Hagan and Michael R. Sutton live in Reynolds County and
co-chair the conservation committee of the East Ozarks Audubon Society.

Original story from St. Louis Post-Dispatch

What are examples of

What are examples of abandoned mine sites in MO? Where? In what states have abandoned mines been successfully converted into pumped storage plants?

abandoned mine sites

I don't know how pumped storage plants work with underground mines, but Missouri has a number of underground mine sites, the Bonne Terre mine being the best known. The mines of the new lead belt, of the Viburnum trend, have created monstrous deep caverns throughout that north-south section of the St. Francois mountains of the Ozarks. I'm not sure if any are yet closed (I think some are), but I know many are almost tapped out of lead, zinc, and other ore.

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