LAKE OZARK, Mo. – Reports have come out in the past 24 hours that a group of suspicious “Middle Eastern” men asked wait staff at a local restaurant about possibly taking tours of Bagnell Dam at the Lake of the Ozarks.
Other reports from around Central Missouri say that others have also been bulk buying cell phones at Wal-Marts in Macon, Columbia, Jefferson City and Lebanon and that large quantities of propane tanks have been stolen around Missouri as well.
The Camden and Miller County Sheriff’s Departments have both been in contact with the FBI office St. Louis, though Ameren Missouri, the owners of the dam, have not increased security beyond its normal amount.
However, Rep. Rocky Miller, R-Lake Ozark, believes the people living in the Lake Area have nothing to fear when it comes to possible terrorist activity in the area.
“I think people are getting nervous for no reason,” he said plainly.
A civil engineer by trade and the House Chair of the Energy and the Environment Committee, Miller said that Bagnell Dam made little sense as a potential target, especially for an explosive attack.
“It would take such an amount of explosives to destroy the dam, it’s just unthinkable,” he said, adding it would take four or five truckloads of high explosives to do any substantial damage to the structure.
He continued, saying that while the structure is certainly an important part of the state’s electrical infrastructure, the dam does not continuously output electricity.
“It has a very low impact on the overall energy production in our state,” he said. “It’s a cheap way to produce electricity when we need it.”
Miller added that in terms of causing casualties that destroying the dam likely would harm relatively few people. Most people living at the lake do not live below the dam along the unimpounded part of the Osage River, and that for those few who do, there are warning systems in place should the Dam fail for some reason. He said that all of those lives are important, but that it made little sense for so much effort to go into such a low impact attack.
“The bottom line is it makes zero sense for [the dam] to be a target,” Miller said.
“That being said, I’m armed,” he added with a laugh.