PSC Asks Ameren to Look For Alternate Landfill Sites - The Missourian: Emissourian

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PSC Asks Ameren to Look For Alternate Landfill Sites

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Posted: Saturday, August 17, 2013 6:32 pm | Updated: 11:56 am, Wed Aug 21, 2013.

A hearing date for a coal ash landfill proposed by Ameren Missouri has been pushed back, and a state agency has asked for further information about alternative sites for the controversial project.

Ameren Missouri requested that the hearing date be pushed back a few weeks so it could have more time to rebut statements given by citizens during public hearings on the landfill.

The landfill is proposed to be built adjacent to Ameren’s Labadie Energy Center.

The Sierra Club and the Labadie Environmental Organization (LEO) did not object to Ameren’s request for a later hearing date.

The Public Service Commission will allow Ameren to file additional rebuttal testimony and has specifically asked for more information on alternative project sites.

“The commission is interested in compiling a full and complete record before making a decision in this case,” the order issued Wednesday states.

Ameren looked at alternate sites for the landfill and found the Labadie location was the most cost effective, said Warren Wood, Ameren’s vice president of legislative and regulatory affairs.

Maxine Lipeles, the St. Louis attorney representing LEO and Labadie property owners, could not be reached for comment.

Some citizens at the public hearings asked if Ameren had fully looked at other possible locations for the landfill.

In its order, the PSC directs the parties to “address the question of whether any other studies, reports, or other documents examining alternative sites, options, or possibilities exist.”

Formal PSC hearings on the controversial landfill were scheduled to be held Sept. 23-25, but will now take place Oct. 15-17.

During those hearings, the main players in the case — Ameren, LEO, the PSC staff and the Sierra Club — will present their formal cases to the PSC.

The PSC, which is a state agency that regulates investor-owned utilities, must decide whether to approve Ameren’s request to expand the boundaries of the Labadie Energy Center for the landfill project.

The PSC held two public hearings on the project this summer with many residents speaking in opposition, saying the project could harm drinking water and cause health problems.

But Ameren officials responded that the landfill would be built in a safe manner and meet stringent government regulations.

LEO, a grassroots group opposed to the landfill being built in a floodplain and floodway of the Missouri River, has filed a lawsuit against the Franklin County Commission over the landfill.

The plaintiffs say the landfill zoning amendment passed by the Franklin County Commission was invalid because it failed to “promote the health, safety, general welfare, and property values of the county ...”

The appeal also disputes the public hearing process used by the Franklin County Commission when the landfill zoning amendment was approved. The commission did not allow the public to specifically address the proposed Ameren landfill in the public hearings, the plaintiffs say.

But the county commission says it did its due diligence when approving the zoning amendment.

The Franklin County Circuit Court ruled in favor of the county this year, but the case has since been appealed to the Eastern District Missouri Court of Appeals in St. Louis.

Ameren officials say the landfill is needed because it is running out of space in its coal ash storage ponds.

The formal hearings for the project will be held in Room 310 of the Governor Office Building, 200 Madison St. in Jefferson City.

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