ST. LOUIS — The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced that Ameren is responsible for the contamination of the wellfields that supply drinking water to St. Charles. The EPA says that Ameren must pay for the cleanup.
For months, St. Charles Mayor Dan Borgmeyer has claimed that a neighboring Ameren substation was the source of the wellfield poisoning, and the EPA’s announcement validates his claims.
Five of the seven wells at the Elm Point Wellfield needed to be shut down due to pollution concerns, and St. Charles now purchases water from St. Louis City.
“We are so thankful that the EPA came forward and finally got the conclusion that Ameren was the polluter in our wellfield,” said Mayor Borgmeyer. “Our fire department went out and audited all the companies in the wellfield. None of them had vinyl chloride as a contaminant except Ameren. We kept telling the EPA that, and I call it a bureaucratic witch hunt, looking for somebody else to blame besides Ameren,”
According to the EPA, the “polluter pays principle” applies, meaning Ameren has to shoulder the financial burden for cleaning up the mess. Mayor Borgmeyer is demanding that Ameren cover the $40 million cost of moving the water wells.
The EPA identified Ameren’s Huster Road substation as the source of the pollution at the Elm Point Wellfield, per a news release. The agency took groundwater samples from 17 different locations between Jan. 17-26, and found vinyl chloride and other pollutants at the wellfield. The EPA will present its findings to the public at a community meeting on Feb. 23.
In a statement, Ameren said, “Ameren Missouri remains committed to the safety of citizens in St. Charles. The drinking water in St. Charles is still safe to drink. We also intend to collaborate with the EPA to address groundwater concerns at and near the Huster substation.”
Ameren tells FOX 2 that cleanup efforts are underway and should be done by March.