Some members of a local environmental group have raised concerns about the amount of earth material that would have to be obtained to construct a levee for a proposed coal ash landfill in Labadie.

But Joe Feldmann, Franklin County’s environmental resource officer, says obtaining material for this project is no different from any other development when it comes to moving dirt.

Labadie resident Kay Genovese recently said that excavating that amount of clay for the project could be harmful to the county.

“They are going to turn the eastern end of Franklin County into a moonscape,” Genovese said at a recent public hearing on the coal ash landfill. “The only way that I can describe it is the rape and pillage of Franklin County. It is obscene.”

Officials “are going up and down Highway T” looking for land to lease and buy so the clay can be obtained, Genovese said. All of the trees and clay will be removed, she added.

Ameren could not be reached for comment Thursday about the project.

But Feldmann said Ameren plans to build a 20-foot high levee around the 166-acre landfill containment area.

Construction on the levee would not begin until after Ameren Missouri gets final approval of its coal ash landfill construction permit from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, Feldmann noted. He said the landfill would be constructed out of clay material.

About 700,000 cubic yards of clay material will be needed, said Labadie Environmental Organization President Patricia Schuba.

Obtaining the material could be similar to a strip mining operation, Schuba said.

This could have an impact on neighbors by causing runoff problems, she said, adding that it could also reduce property values.

Anytime there is an excavation of material over a certain amount, DNR requires a stormwater pollution prevention plan and a discharge permit, Feldmann said. This is to ensure the material is removed in an environmentally sensitive manner when it comes to issues such as erosion, he added.

MDNR says a land disturbance permit would be required.

First District County Commissioner Tim Brinker said it is wrong to say property values would decrease over this issue. And Brinker said he does not foresee stormwater runoff problems resulting either.

Feldmann did not know how much material would be needed for the project specifically but said it would be a “bunch.”

It is unclear where the clay material would come from.

Labadie real estate agent Fred Thatcher said he is representing a property owner who may sell land so the material can be excavated. That property is on Highway T in Labadie, Thatcher said. But Thatcher said other property may be purchased for the levee material.

Since Thatcher stands to potentially profit from representing the land sale, he has recused himself from a Board of Zoning Adjustment appeal hearing that Schuba’s group has filed over the landfill project.