Group Files Appeal Over Coal Ash Landfill - The Missourian: County

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Group Files Appeal Over Coal Ash Landfill

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Posted: Saturday, January 11, 2014 9:00 am

A group of Labadie residents who oppose the construction of a coal ash landfill in Labadie this week filed an appeal with the Franklin County Board of Zoning Adjustment.

The appeal argues that Ameren Missouri’s proposed landfill does not meet guidelines set forth in the county’s land-use code.

Specifically, it argues that the proposed landfill liner is not 2 feet above the natural water table as required by the county’s land-use regulations.

County Planning Director Scottie Eagan and County Counselor Mark Vincent declined comment on the matter since it is a pending action.

The Missourian also sought comment from Ameren, but the company did not provide a response by press time.

The residents say Eagan “erroneously” determined that the proposed landfill complies with county zoning regulations. They want the board of zoning adjustment to reverse her decision.

The Labadie Environmental Organization, a grassroots organization that opposes the landfill, is also a party in the appeal.

State law requires Ameren to be in compliance with local zoning requirements, the appeal says.

Ameren’s construction permit application to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources included letters from Eagan that stated the landfill was in compliance with local zoning codes, the appeal adds.

But the residents say Eagan was wrong and that Ameren’s proposed landfill is not in compliance with local zoning codes.

“The clay or composite soil component at the base of the utility waste landfill shall be at least 2 feet above the natural water table in the site area,” the county’s land-use regulations state.

Ameren’s application states that “portions of the landfill liner will probably be in intermittent contact with groundwater,” according to the appeal.

“Thus, Ameren’s application states that the liner at the landfill’s sumps, where contaminants are collected, will be nearly 2 feet below — not 2 feet above — the natural water table, the appeal adds. “Ameren expressly admits that this means that groundwater will come in contact with the liner — defeating the evident purpose of the county’s requirement of a 2-foot clearance between the liner and the groundwater.”

The appeal also alleges that Ameren has not obtained a zoning permit required by the county land-use regulations.

The appeal was filed by the residents’ attorney, Maxine Lipeles, who is with the Washington University School of Law in St. Louis.

Background

The appeal to the county board of zoning adjustment is the latest in a series of legal hurdles facing the landfill project.

Ameren Missouri plans to build a utility waste landfill adjacent to its power plant in Labadie to store coal ash that is the byproduct of burning coal to generate electricity.

Residents who live near the power plant have also filed a lawsuit to stop the coal ash landfill from going forward and have also raised objections to the Missouri Public Service Commission in public hearings.

The lawsuit, which was filed against Franklin County, is in the Eastern District Court of Appeals. It challenges the legality of the county’s zoning amendment that allows the coal ash landfill.

The residents say they are worried that the proposed coal ash landfill will contaminate water supplies, harm their health and reduce their property values.

Meanwhile, Ameren officials have defended the proposed landfill, saying it would be safe, meet a host of government regulations and have a liner and groundwater monitoring equipment.

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