On the eve of start of the 2010 legislative session the Senate committee looking into delays in the release of information on the E. coli contamination at the Lake of the Ozarks hears from a former state official who accepts full responsibility.

Former Department of Natural Resources Deputy Director Joe Bindbeutal told the Senate Commerce, Consumer Protection, Energy and the Environment Committee that he and he – alone – is responsible for the decision not to release the information.

“Let me make this very clear,” Bindbeutal told the panel. “I made that decision.”

Bindbeutal says he withheld the information because it was already a few days old and might be outdated and because he thought a plan of action should be presented if any numbers were to be released.

“The delay, at my recommendation, was to explore the causes and develop a plan,” said Bindbeutal. “I believe DNR had twin responsibilities, not just to gather data but to act on that data, and I focused on the second and not on the immediacy of the first.”

Bindbeutal came up with a plan which was presented to Governor Jay Nixon.

“It was presented, as I understand it, as a package with a press release, with the data, with a plan,” said Bindbeutel. “The Governor’s Office decided to go in a different direction.”

Committee Chairman Senator Brad Lager (R-Savannah) says his panel will eventually issue a report on the contamination and withholding of information.

Audio: Joe Bindbeutal appears before Senate committee (1:30:00 MP3)