Concern over coal ash in west STL County

ST. LOUIS COUNTY - There's conflicting information Thursday regarding Ameren Missouri's coal burning plants and the ash they produce as a bi-product.

Using the same data, Ameren reports there is no threat to ground water or public health, while residents and environmental groups say the data shows alarming levels of arsenic, mercury, and lead.

A lot of coal ash is recycled into products like cement and drywall. Ameren wants to build new landfills to store the additional waste.

Right now, the waste from Labadie's power plant is stored in pools. It has no liner and environmentalists and residents worry about ground water contamination.

"It's pretty serious because we are talking exposure to lead, mercury, arsenic, choromium. These are things that cause birth defects," said Patricia Schuba.

Schuba says Ameren's own data shows arsenic levels in some of these wells six times the federal drinking water standards. The lead toxicologist hired by Ameren admits there are wells showing elevated levels of arsenic, but she says it's naturally occurring, and not linked to the plant.

"It's clear they haven't looked at the report very carefully. Those concentrations are at wells further away from where the ask ponds are now. The wells closest to the ash ponds have very low concentrations. If the arsenic was coming from ash ponds we'd expect opposite to occur," said Schuba.

Schuba and members of the Sierra Club question why Ameren wants to put a landfill on a flood plain.

Ameren contends coal ash sets up like concrete and water won't move it anywhere.

The environmentalists sent a letter to Gov. Jay Nixon Thursday urging him to stop the permitting process of the landfills.

Gov. Nixon hasn't seen the letter, but said the Department of Natural Resources has done solid work, indicating the permitting process will move forward.


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