Ameren Counters Critics Over Coal Ash Landfill Debate

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FRANKLIN COUNTY, MO (KTVI)-- Environmental groups and residents who live near Ameren Missouri coal fired power plants voiced their concerns Tuesday over possible contamination issues at the plants.

The Labadie Environmental Organization, the Coalition for the Environment, and the Sierra Club said there is no need to rush to construct a solid waste landfill for coal ash near the Labadie plant.

Ameren Missouri vice president for Legislative and Regulatory Affairs Warren Wood said the firm is ready to build a state of the art landfill to take concrete like material formed from unusable waste from the Labadie power plant.

"The material is placed on site very close to dry.  It really has only enough moisture for dust suppression.  It sets up like concrete,"  Wood said.  He added that would protect the environment if the landfill ever flooded.

Critics planned to testify against the proposed landfill during a public hearing in Union Tuesday night sponsored by the Missouri Public Service Commission, the state agency that regulated utilities.

Sara Edgar of the Sierra Club  complained Ameren had done nothing about current coal ash holding ponds at the Meramec and Labadie power plants.  "There is very serious concern this is leaching heavy metals and toxins into our flood plains which are connected to our rivers which are connected to how we get drinking water here in the St. Louis region," Edgar  said.  She noted mercury, lead and arsenic could be found in coal ash.

Wood said only trace amounts of the metals exist in the coal ash.  "It compares to background levels you would find if you just went to scoop up a normal piece of dirt anywhere in the state," he said.

The PSC is to rule on Ameren's request to enlarge its property at Labadie for the purpose of building a coal ash storage landfill by the end of the year.

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