Hearings begin in Jefferson City Monday morning on a proposed coal ash landfill in Franklin County.
Power company Ameren is seeking the Missouri Public Service Commission’s approval of the new facility to receive waste from its power plant in Labadie.
The utility is running out of room in its existing Labadie storage ponds. Ameren Vice President Warren Wood says the new landfill will be extremely safe, replacing slurry ponds with state-of-the-art dry storage.
“If it’s in a solid form, it’s not subject to some of the other objections to it that a wet landfill is exposed to. Because you’ve got a hard material, it’s not going anywhere,” Wood said.
But resident Patricia Schuba, who heads the Labadie Environmental Organization, says the choice of location on the Missouri River floodplain is unwise. She contends that because the water table is near the surface, groundwater contamination is more likely.
“We would argue that’s not a safe disposal of coal ash, because coal ash leaches readily into water, and it has all these toxins and heavy metals,” Schuba said.
Members of the Sierra Club will also attend the hearings, arguing that more extensive testing is needed to see if groundwater near the existing storage ponds has already been contaminated.
This week’s hearings will last through Wednesday. If Ameren receives approval from the PSC, as well as a construction permit from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, it plans to start construction this summer and complete the landfill in 2016.