Wednesday, March 7, 2012


By Patricia Schuba

I was born in 1963 in Labadie, three miles from what is now the nation's 14th largest coal-fired plant. My family has farmed the land for four generations. It was only when Ameren placed a coal ash landfill in the floodplain that we became aware of the risks of burning coal and of exposure to the waste left behind.

In 1970, Ameren built the plant that is still operating today in the floodplain of the Missouri River just east of Labadie on a scenic stretch of the lower Missouri River. Little did we all know that almost immediately after the plant was built, the utility began dumping toxic wet ash into an open 154 acre unlined pond, and from there into the Missouri River. This stretch of river floods and the groundwater is often above the surface, making contamination of surrounding soil and water likely.

We now know, from reviewing public records that this pond was leaking 50,000 gallons per day since 1992. Ameren claims to have recently stemmed the leaks, including new ones that were reported in 2011. We also know that under its water pollution permit, Ameren dumps an average of 25 million gallons per day of waste water from the ponds into the Missouri River.

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