Environmental groups delivered about 3,500 petitions to Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon’s office in Jefferson City on Thursday, asking him to stop a construction permit for a coal ash landfill in Franklin County. The permit would allow Ameren Missouri to build a new landfill near its power plant located by the Missouri River.
Ameren says it’s almost of out of room in existing storage ponds for the coal ash, so it wants to build a newer and safer facility. In a released statement, it says it is committed to building a state-of-the-art landfill for its customers.
It is the right thing to do for our customers and it is a responsible solution for protecting the environment. This proposal has faced unfair criticism from the Sierra Club and others. Independent experts such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) agree with Ameren Missouri that this is the best approach.
But Patricia Schuba, president of the citizens group Labadie Environmental Organization, says the landfill would sit in a floodplain and could compromise the region’s water supply.
“We’re a group of citizens who live near these sites, and we don’t want this waste in our water," Schuba said. "So we will exhaust every legal option we have to stop a landfill in a floodplain near our drinking water.”
Along with asking for a stay on Ameren's application for a permit, petitioners asked that Nixon's office or the Departmental of Natural Resources start monitoring water supplies around power plant sites, including Ameren's Labadie power plant.
“The interaction with the governor’s office was positive," Schuba said. "And I think any good politician needs to hear from the folks in his district, and namely, this all of Missouri. And we provided him proof that Missourians are concerned about coal ash contamination in our drinking water.”
Ameren’s application for the permit is currently being reviewed by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.
St. Louis Public Radio has reached out for comment from the governor’s office.
As of today, there is no national regulatory law for coal waste disposal, but the Environmental Protection Agency will finalize its coal waste combustion rules by Dec. 19.