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Feb 3, 2007

Citing Terroism, Corps Continues Restrictions on Flood Maps

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans to continue restrictions on maps detailing areas that would flood in the event of failure of the troubled Wolf Creek Dam The Courier-Journal reported. The corps had previously promised to make the maps widely available to the public by last Wednesday (01/31/07).

The 69 maps, each 24"x36", depict areas in Kentucky and Tennessee that would be flooded should the dam fail. Concerned the leaking dam might fail, the corps recently conducted an emergency release of water, significantly lowering the lake level and pressure on the dam. A catastrophic dam failure would cause more than $3 billion in damage and could kill as many as 237 people the corps has said. Wolf Creek Dam holds back the largest reservoir east of the Mississippi.

Copies of the maps had been sought by various news organizations which wanted to publish them in both their print and online editions. Citing terrorism concerns, the corps only allows the public to view the maps at their Nashville, TN, office. The taking of photos or other copies are not allowed. The corps says it plans to make the maps available to selected libraries in the flood-threatened area. However, the libraries will be required to sign an agreement stating that they won't allow the public to take photos or otherwise copy the maps.

The Courier-Journal has filed a Freedom of Information Act request, asking for copies of the maps. However, the corps stated that they would only comply with the request if the paper agreed not to publish the maps.

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