Labadie

Ameren Missouri's coal fire power plant at Labadie.
Veronique LaCapra I St. Louis Public Radio

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency plans to designate the area around Ameren's Labadie coal-fired power plant in Franklin and St. Charles Counties as exceeding federal air quality standards.

Moose Winan, "Rolling Thunder & Hills," Ozark Mountains
Moose Winans | Flickr, Creative Commons | http://bit.ly/1YyPCLb

One word comes to mind when we think about the environmental news that’s been a conversation starter in St. Louis in 2015: landfills. Specifically, what is going on at the Bridgeton and West Lake landfills north St. Louis County. On Wednesday’s “St. Louis on the Air,” St. Louis Public Radio’s science reporter Véronique LaCapra joined the show to discuss the evolution of the landfill situation and other big science, environmental and wildlife news of the year.

Some of the topics we discussed:

Ameren's power plant in Labadie is the largest in the state.
Art Chimes

Updated 5:00 p.m., Sept. 24 with vote result - The Missouri Air Conservation Commission has voted to designate parts of Franklin and St. Charles counties as "unclassifiable" for sulfur dioxide pollution.

Thursday's vote follows a recommendation by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources earlier this week.

Wastewater from Ameren's coal-fired power plant in Franklin County discharges into the Missouri River.
Labadie Environmental Organization

The Sierra Club says Ameren's Labadie power plant in Franklin County does not meet state and federal water quality standards and wants it brought into compliance.

On Friday, the environmental group filed an appeal with the state, alleging the plant’s operating permit does not do enough to protect wildlife or groundwater.

The coal ash landfill hearing got underway at 9 a.m. and lasted into the evening. Ameren employees wearing bright yellow vests attended the hearing in shifts throughout the day.
Véronique LaCapra | St. Louis Public Radio

The chambers of the Franklin County Commission were filled to near capacity for much of the day on Thursday for a public hearing about proposed changes to the county’s coal ash landfill regulations.

The regulations will affect a coal ash landfill that Ameren wants to build next to its power plant in Labadie.

Franklin County residents show their opposition to Ameren's coal ash landfill at a county commission meeting in late 2011.
Véronique LaCapra | St. Louis Public Radio

In April, Franklin County considered a proposal to ease its restrictions on coal ash landfills. Even though that meeting was open to the public, county residents were not allowed to speak. This Thursday they’ll get their chance.

The all-day hearing with county’s board of commissioners is the latest installment in a six-year battle over Ameren’s plans to build a coal ash landfill next to its power plant in Labadie.

This diagram is an excerpt of “figure 1” from Ameren’s “Detailed Site Investigation,” showing the location of the company’s proposed coal ash landfill.
Ameren Missouri

A set of proposed amendments to zoning restrictions in Franklin County may pave the way for Ameren to build the coal ash landfill they’ve been pushing for since 2009, despite environmental concerns from residents.  

Wastewater from Ameren's coal-fired power plant in Franklin County discharges into the Missouri River.
Labadie Environmental Organization

Updated on 2/17/15:

Ameren’s coal-fired power plant in Labadie has been operating under an expired wastewater discharge permit since 1999.

In fact, all of Ameren's plants in the St. Louis area have expired National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits: Meramec's lapsed in 2005, and Rush Island's and Sioux's in 2009.

This diagram is an excerpt of “figure 1” from Ameren’s “Detailed Site Investigation,” showing the location of the company’s proposed coal ash landfill.
Ameren Missouri

There’s a new twist in the legal wrangling over Ameren’s plans to build a coal ash landfill in Franklin County.

On Tuesday, Ameren and Franklin County together filed a lawsuit against the Labadie Environmental Organization, a nonprofit made up of area residents opposing the landfill.

Franklin County residents hold up signs to show their opposition to Ameren's landfill plans at a meeting of the county commission in 2011, just before the commission voted to change its zoning regulations to allow coal ash landfills.
Véronique LaCapra | St. Louis Public Radio

Ameren's ability to move ahead with building a coal ash landfill in Franklin County is now in some doubt.

On Tuesday, the Missouri Supreme Court reversed a lower court's dismissal of a case filed by Franklin County residents in an effort to block the landfill's construction.

In its unanimous decision, the Supreme Court said the residents have a valid case and that the Franklin County Circuit Court must hear it.

Ameren's coal-fired power plant in Labadie
Véronique LaCapra / St. Louis Public Radio

Post updated 11:13 a.m. on Monday, 11/24/14. 

After four years and a court order that pitted environmental groups against the coal industry, the Environmental Protection Agency is nearing its December deadline to finalize regulations for how coal-fired power plants dispose of the ash they create.  

Coal ash — which contains toxic substances like mercury, lead and arsenic — can leach into groundwater if not properly contained. That has raised concerns among environmental groups who say Missouri does not properly regulate coal ash disposal.  

Véronique LaCapra, St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 7/25/14 with information on a new lawsuit.

The Labadie Environmental Organization (LEO) has filed another lawsuit in their long-running campaign to prevent Ameren from building a coal ash landfill in Franklin County.

Image courtesy of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources

The Missouri Public Service Commission has signed off on Ameren Missouri's plan to build a coal ash landfill at its power plant in Franklin County.

The five member commission unanimously granted the utility company’s request for a Certificate of Convenience and Necessity on Wednesday. That certificate gives Ameren the ability to expand the area of its Labadie power plant to build the new landfill.

This map shows the approximate location of groundwater drinking wells near Ameren's proposed coal ash landfill in Franklin County. It was created based on Missouri Department of Natural Resources well location data.
Labadie Environmental Organization

The Missouri Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) is hosting a meeting on Tuesday to get public input on Ameren's plans to build a coal ash landfill next to its power plant in Franklin County.

The meeting will focus on whether the agency should grant Ameren a landfill construction permit.

Ameren Missouri's Vice President of External Affairs and Communications, Warren Wood, said the new coal ash landfill will be state-of-the-art.

PSC Hears Arguments On Labadie Coal Ash Landfill

Mar 30, 2014
This diagram is an excerpt of “figure 1” from Ameren’s “Detailed Site Investigation,” showing the location of the company’s proposed coal ash landfill.
Ameren Missouri

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.

Sarah Skiold-Hanlin, St. Louis Public Radio & The Beacon

Updated Thursday 10:15 p.m.

The Sierra Club says Ameren has been routinely violating air quality standards at its St. Louis-area power plants.

In a Notice of Intent to Sue delivered to Ameren on Wednesday afternoon, the Sierra Club alleges the company's Labadie, Meramec, and Rush Island plants have exceeded air pollution limits almost 10,000 times since 2008.

Sarah Skiold-Hanlin, St. Louis Public Radio

A new report released Tuesday by a coalition of environmental groups focuses on the need to revamp national water pollution standards for coal-fired power plants.

The report cites Ameren's Labadie power plant in Franklin County as one of the worst waterway polluters in the nation.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Owners of the Bridgeton landfill – beset by a persistent odor, an underground “hot spot” and a nearby radioactive site – are likely prepared for an earful of complaints and concerns at Tuesday night’s hearing hosted by the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

(Map created for the Labadie Environmental Organization based on Missouri Department of Natural Resources well location data)

Environmental groups are once again urging state officials to require groundwater monitoring at Ameren’s coal-fired power plants in eastern Missouri.

The Sierra Club and Labadie Environmental Organization submitted a letter to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources on Thursday asking the state not to allow Ameren to build new coal ash landfills before testing groundwater for contamination.

Véronique LaCapra, St. Louis Public Radio

A local environmental group filed an appeal this morning in an ongoing effort to keep Ameren from building a coal ash landfill next to its power plant in Labadie.

Last month, a circuit court judge ruled that the Franklin County Commission was in the right when it approved a zoning amendment that would allow construction of the landfill.

But a group of 12 Labadie families, led by the grassroots Labadie Environmental Organization, is challenging that decision.

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