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Eastern Missouri Group

SierraScape September 2012 - February 2013
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Coal Ash Landfill Proposals Pose Serious Threat

by Sara Edgar
Sierra Club Beyond Coal Campaign for Missouri

August 14th the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) held a public awareness session at Roger's Elementary in South County about a coal ash landfill Ameren has proposed at their Meramec coal plant. About 30 people wandered in and out of a few small poster presentations while DNR answered questions and Ameren assured everyone that this landfill would pose no threat to air or water.

The odd thing was, when reporters started asking around for local residents to interview, they could not find anyone. Why is that you may ask? Well, all the families who live near the proposed landfill were busy enjoying their children's Back to School Ice Cream Social. A meeting for a similar proposal at the Rush Island plant near Festus was also sparsely attended as it was conveniently planned for the same night as the primary elections. Coincidence? Luckily, although the meetings did not make it onto most people's radars, it did make it onto ours, and members and staff of the Sierra Club were able to attend and voice concerns.

Coal ash is the waste byproduct from burning coal and is a very dangerous material, containing toxins such as mercury, lead, and arsenic. Coal ash is so harmful that groups such as the Sierra Club have been fighting long and hard to get it designated a toxic waste at the federal level. Coal ash landfills around the country have been the cause of significant groundwater contamination, air pollution, and threats to public health. Ameren now has three coal ash landfills proposed, two of which on top of existing coal ash waste ponds. These landfills would sit along the Meramec, the Mississippi, and the Missouri River, potentially putting our rivers at great risk in the case of flooding. If you want to know more or get involved, contact Sara Edgar at sara.edgar@sierraclub.org or (314) 497-8757.