Ameren / Coal Ash
5:26 pm
Thu April 21, 2011

Ameren fields shareholder questions on impact of coal ash

Officials at Ameren took questions from shareholders about the utility company's procedures for disposing of coal ash today.

The annual shareholder's meeting was open to all Ameren investors.

Diana Oleskevich works for the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet.  The sisters are part of a group of five institutional investors calling on Ameren to clean up their coal ash disposal procedures.

Oleskevich says Ameren's claim that its 35 coal ash storage ponds comply with current regulations does not satisfy her concerns.

"The truth is there are hardly any environmental regulations to comply with," Oleskevich said. "Coal ash disposal isn't regulated by the federal government, yet.  And state regulation of ash ponds is minimal."

Coal Ash is a byproduct of coal-fired power plants and is typically stored in water in coal ash ponds.  Ameren has 35 coal ash ponds, 19 of which are unlined.

Still, Ameren CEO Tom Voss says the companies coal ash facilities are in compliance.

"The board believes that it is not necessary, prudent or cost effective to prepare the report requested by the proposal, " Voss said. "That is especially true given that Ameren subsidiaries have safely managed coal combustion byproducts at its facilities for decades."

Ameren has been criticized by environmental groups for its plan to locate a coal ash landfill next to its Labadie plant, which is the flood plain of the Missouri River.

The EPA is currently considering tougher regulation of coal ash, and, in 2008, a coal ash spill in eastern Tennessee was considered to be among the worst environmental disasters in the country's history.