Big Turnout for Franklin County Public Hearing on Coal Ash
Metro St. Louis Citizens Show Up to Say NO to Coal Ash Landfilling in
Floodways and Missouri River Bottoms
Labadie Coal Fired Power Plant
An estimated 200-300 people attended the Tuesday, December 14 hearing at East
Central College in Union, Franklin County, Missouri to hear arguments on the
proposed coal ash landfilling regulation changes. Forty six testified and
approximately forty more wanted to testify before the Franklin County
Commission. Because of the large turnout an additional hearing will be held in
January or February of 2011. Labadie Environmental Organization brought in top
notch experts in hydrogeology and coal ash landfilling to make comment on the
risks of landfilling coal ash waste. They provide scientific proof that
floodplains are particularly vulnerable to contamination. The Commission
promised a date to be determined and posted this coming week.
Franklin County is considering adopting first ever utility landfill regulation
codes that could potentially allow toxic chemicals to be stored indefinitely in
floodplains and bottomlands of rivers. These areas are vulnerable to leaching
and contamination of groundwater and regional drinking water. The code change is
likely in response to Ameren Missouri’s proposed 400 acre, 100 feet tall coal
ash landfill for the Labadie Bottoms near their Labadie Plant. The plant is the
14th largest coal-fired plant in the United States, the largest in Missouri and
the 4th highest emitter of mercury.
The Labadie Plant is an old plant that has made operational upgrades that the
EPA believes warrant pollution capturing upgrades. Despite what the EPA has
said, Ameren has not invested in the upgrades. Instead Ameren wants to invest
money in a huge landfill to receive coal ash from other Metro St. Louis plants.
Citizens are concerned that the current impoundments are either leaking or
discharging into the Missouri River and both the old ponds and the new proposed
landfill are all in the floodplain with a high groundwater table. The point
source pollution is just miles upstream from drinking water intakes for St.
Louis County and City. Millions could be negatively impacted over time. Expert
witness Dr. Charles Norris, hydro geologist, stated that it is not if a coal ash
landfill will contaminate, it is when. Liners and good design only slow the
eventual contamination. Given landfills are permanent structures, why would we
endanger our water resources by allowing placement in floodplains and in
vulnerable geology. Dr. Robert Criss, hydro geologist from Washington
University, clearly stated the inherent risks of placement in floodplains and
specifically in the Labadie Bottoms which is prone to flooding and liquefaction
during seismic events.
In summary, the citizens of the region came out in force to say no to the
County’s proposal. Their collective voices warranted another hearing and another
chance to make clear to County decision makers that the risks to the public are
too great and Ameren can find another alternative. Please support the effort by
going to www.leomo.info to sign the online
petition and find out how you can help to protect regional water resources from
coal ash pollution.