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Coal Ash Decision Close in Franklin County

Megan Lynch
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AFP/Getty/ Saul Loeb

AFP/Getty/ Saul Loeb

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UNION, Mo. (KMOX) – A year ago, KMOX News started looking at the controversy over coal ash.  Now the debate over whether the potentially toxic byproduct should be stored in one Missouri County comes to a head this week.

The coal-fired power plants we rely on for energy, generate tons of ash.  Ameren Missouri has said it’s existing storage sites are nearing capacity.  It wants to construct a landfill on 400 acres near it’s Labadie power plant.

Such a facility would require a zoning change.  Something the Franklin County Commission has been considering for months and Wednesday morning will debate. 

Patricia Schuba heads the Labadie Environmental Organization — outspoken opponents of the landfill proposal.

Schuba is hoping newly adopted federal flood maps will persuade commissioners that allowing a utility waste landfill is risky. “Ameren’s proposed landfill for coal ash would be right on the flood way for the Missouri River.”  Schuba says that could increase the risk for groundwater and drinking water contamination.

Studies of coal retention ponds across the country have revealed lead, arsenic and other potential toxins in surrounding groundwater.

A site investigation for the Labadie proposal has met state requirements for groundwater monitoring and other considerations.  In mid-May Ameren told KMOX it was in the process of finalizing its construction permit application.  The company has promised any facility would be state of the art — storing the byproduct in a solid form and built with multiple layers of protection.

Wednesday morning’s meeting is open to public.  The commission won’t be taking comment, but will be considering hours of public testimony taken at previous meetings. 

Wednesday morning’s meeting begins at 9:30 in the Franklin County Commission chambers at the County Government Center, 400 East Locust, Union.

(Tune to NewsRadio 1120 for one Commissioner’s perspective during Wednesday’s Total Information A.M. newscasts.)

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