PSC Decision on Ameren Permit May Come in Fall - The Missourian: Local News

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PSC Decision on Ameren Permit May Come in Fall

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Posted: Saturday, July 13, 2013 5:00 pm

A decision on the proposed coal ash landfill at Ameren’s Labadie power plant won’t come until fall.

It may not be known until November whether the Missouri Public Service Commission approves Ameren Missouri’s application.

On Wednesday, the PSC held its final public hearing on Ameren’s application.

Ameren is seeking permission from the PSC to expand the boundaries of its Labadie Energy Center for the landfill.

The landfill has been controversial because some residents and environmental organizations are worried about the proposed landfill’s impact on drinking water. Opponents say that the landfill would be built in a floodplain and floodway of the Missouri River.

Ameren officials claim that the landfill would be safe with a liner and groundwater monitoring wells.

“The new proposed landfill will allow coal ash to be stored safely in a solid state on company property,” Ameren announced in a prepared statement.

The landfill is needed because the current coal ash storage ponds at the site are reaching capacity, according to Ameren.

The next big step in the PSC process is the formal evidentiary hearings, which will take place Sept. 23-25 in Jefferson City. During those hearings, the main players in the case — Ameren, the Labadie Environmental Organization, the PSC staff and the Sierra Club — will present their formal cases to the PSC.

The PSC is a state agency that regulates investor-owned utilities.

The Wednesday public hearing, which took place at the Knights of Columbus in Washington, was a follow-up to the first hearing, which was in June.

The first hearing had so many concerned citizens that a second hearing had to be scheduled so everyone could speak.

Many of the people who did not get to speak last time did not show up at the second hearing.

The second hearing drew fewer people than the first one, which had more than 100 attendees.

At the hearing Wednesday, LEO member Ruth Campbell said the “toxic waste” landfill is a potential hazard and unacceptable. She said she wonders what impact it could have on her well.

Likewise Adrian Hutton, who has a doctorate degree in chemical engineering, said the PSC should not approve Ameren’s request.

With his experience working with the Hong Kong government cleaning up industrial waste, Hutton said project alternatives should be considered.

But Ameren’s statement says the landfill would uphold “stringent federal and state guidelines.”

Jim Lowery, the attorney representing Ameren at the hearing, said the Missouri Department of Natural Resources has determined that the proposed site is appropriate for a utility waste landfill.

Hutton, who is also a Labadie resident, said he is worried about his well becoming contaminated.

“Everyone downstream of this proposed project should also be concerned,” Hutton said.

Hutton added that Franklin County and Ameren have demonstrated political expertise in relation to the landfill, but engineering expertise is another matter, he said.

“I’m very concerned about the lack of documented, disclosed and detailed engineering studies that should form the basis of the proposed project,” Hutton said.

Joan Featherston said she would like to see more of the coal ash recycled while John Hollowich said the air, land and water must be protected.

Ameren in its statement said that the company continues to explore using renewable forms of energy.

Jan Brennan said Ameren has a history of leaking pollutants, and if people don’t have their health, they don’t have anything.

Brennan pleaded with the PSC to not let its decision come down to money for Ameren.

Franz Mayer, who lives outside of Augusta, said he is willing to pay more for electricity to make sure it is made in a safe manner.

Stuart Keating with the grass roots group Environment Missouri of St. Louis said Ameren does not have a good safety record and should not be allowed to build the landfill in a floodplain that was underwater in 1993.

But Ameren said in its statement that the landfill would be built “in the best interest of Franklin County residents and our customers.”

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