By Josh Mitchell
Missourian Staff Writer
A controversial Ameren Missouri coal ash landfill that is proposed to be located in Labadie has been delayed again.
Missouri Public Service Commission hearings that were scheduled for November on the project have been canceled, and the rest of the procedural schedule has been suspended, according to an information release issued by the PSC this week.
The delay is a result of Ameren having to file a revised construction permit application with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.
The construction permit must be revised because Franklin County has required an additional six groundwater monitoring wells be included in the proposed landfill project. The county required the extra monitoring wells even though the state Department of Natural Resources had already said the groundwater monitoring plan submitted by Ameren was adequate.
“Until that revised application is filed with DNR, Ameren Missouri believes the proceedings before the Missouri Public Service Commission cannot go forward,” the release adds.
It is unclear what these delays mean for the landfill project, said Patricia Schuba, president of the Labadie Environmental Organization, a group that has been fighting the landfill.
This provides an opportunity for all parties and the PSC to obtain the information that is needed to make a good decision, Schuba added.
Ameren filed an application with the PSC in January seeking permission to expand the boundaries of its Labadie Energy Center to allow for the construction of a coal ash landfill.
Public hearings on the project have drawn much opposition from Labadie residents and the Labadie Environmental Organization. Opponents say they are worried that the coal ash landfill would cause health and environmental problems, especially when it comes to water resources.
LEO also has filed a lawsuit against the Franklin County Commission in the Missouri Court of Appeals Eastern District in St. Louis. The lawsuit challenges the county’s landfill zoning regulations.
Ameren officials have vowed that the landfill would be safe and uphold stringent government regulations.
The landfill is needed because current coal ash storage ponds at the power plant in Labadie are becoming full, which means another location must be developed to store the ash that comes about after coal is burned to generate electricity, the company says.
The 800-acre landfill “footprint” would include access roads, groundwater monitoring equipment and the actual coal ash landfill. The coal ash storage would only be about 167 acres, Ameren officials have said.
Ameren has said it wants the landfill operational by April of 2016 with the hope that it will provide enough storage space for 24 years. The company also has said the landfill would be built in several phases with Phase 1 costing $27 million.