Hearing dates have once again been pushed back for a coal ash landfill that is proposed to be located in Labadie.
The Missouri Public Service Commission was scheduled to hold formal hearings on Oct. 15-17, but they have been rescheduled for Nov. 12-14 in Jefferson City.
This is the second time the hearings have been delayed.
This time, two environmental organizations opposed to the landfill — the Labadie Environmental Organization and the Sierra Club — asked that the hearing dates be pushed back to allow more time to review testimony.
The first delay happened after Ameren requested more time to rebut statements given during public hearings on the project.
Originally, the hearings were supposed to be Sept. 23-25.
Ameren has filed an application with the PSC to expand the boundaries of the utility’s Labadie Energy Center for the landfill.
Ameren says it needs to construct the coal ash landfill because its ash storage ponds are reaching capacity. It must have more space to store the ash, which is a byproduct of burning the coal for electricity.
The proposed landfill project has been met with much opposition from nearby residents who say the landfill would pose risks to health and the environment.
But Ameren says its landfill would be safe and meet stringent government regulations.
Moreover, Ameren officials have said that the Labadie location next to its power plant is the most economically feasible option.
Warren Wood, Ameren’s vice president of legislative and regulatory affairs, was quoted in a prepared statement saying, “It is clear that storing this material in a solid state next to the Labadie Energy Center is a state-of-the-art approach that will be safe, result in the lowest cost to customers, and avoids the inconvenience of approximately 70 trucks per day on roads going to and from the plant.”
LEO, which is a group of residents concerned about the project, has sued the Franklin County Commission over landfill zoning regulations.
The Franklin County Circuit Court ruled in favor of the county in January, and then LEO appealed to the Eastern District Court of Appeals in St. Louis.
The plaintiffs say the landfill regulations passed by the Franklin County Commission violated the basic zoning regulation requirement to “promote the health, safety, general welfare, and property values of the county.”
The appeal also challenges the public hearing process the county commission used prior to approving the zoning amendment for the landfill.
During the public hearings, the commission prohibited citizens from specifically discussing the proposed Ameren coal ash landfill, the plaintiffs say.
But Presiding County Commissioner John Griesheimer has said the county did its due diligence prior to approving the landfill zoning amendment.
Griesheimer has said that he did instruct those speaking at the public hearings to only address the zoning amendment in general and not the Ameren coal ash landfill. But he said he still allowed some comments about the proposed Ameren landfill.
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, according to Ameren.
Ameren officials have previously said they want the landfill operational by April of 2016 and hope that it will provide enough storage space for 24 years.
The landfill would be built in several phases with Phase 1 costing $27 million.
The PSC hearings will be held in Room 310 of the Governor Office Building, 200 Madison St., Jefferson City.