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Koster will review delay in release of E. coli data Man who swam in Lake of Ozarks reports being ill.

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JEFFERSON CITY - Attorney General Chris Koster will review whether state environmental officials violated the "Sunshine Law" by delaying release of a report showing unsafe levels of E. coli at the Lake of the Ozarks.

Meanwhile, though state health records show no E. coli infections at the lake, a Sunrise Beach man said Friday that he was hospitalized for three days in mid-May with an E. coli infection.

Testing done in late May by volunteers with the Lake of the Ozarks Watershed Alliance found bacteria levels higher than allowed by the Environmental Protection Agency. The group asked the state Department of Natural Resources to release the data, but the agency withheld the information until late last month.

A DNR spokeswoman told the Kansas City Star that the agency held up the report to study the data further and avert a "panic" during prime vacation season.

Ken Midkiff, chairman of the Missouri Clean Water Campaign, filed a complaint Friday, asking Koster to investigate whether the agency broke the state's Open Meetings and Records Law. Violators can be fined up to $5,000.

Nixon's spokesman, Jack Cardetti, said the governor "fully supports the attorney general looking into this matter."

DNR Director Mark Templeton said the agency had wanted to determine whether the test results were caused by heavy rainfall, so officials had sought additional historical data before releasing the report. He said that from now on, testing results will be made public as soon as they're known.

Templeton said the governor's office had not been involved in the decision to delay the report. He said the official involved was former DNR deputy director Joe Binbeutel, a longtime Nixon aide who is no longer at the agency. Nixon recently appointed Binbeutel to the Administrative Hearing Commission.

The state has said no E. coli infections have been reported in Camden or Morgan counties. But only outbreaks involving a number of people are required to be reported. Isolated cases are not, unless they are of a virulent strain, said Kit Wagar, a Department of Health and Senior Services spokesman.

Francis Carr, 79, said he swims in the lake every day. On May 17 - nine days before the water samples were collected - Carr became ill and was transported to the hospital with a 104-degree fever and a pulse rate of about 180. He said tests later found an E. coli infection in his bladder.

"I don't know if I got the bug in the lake, but I think it is the most probable source," Carr said.

The environmental agency's decision to sit on the lab reports did not affect his case because he became ill before the tests were taken.

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