Ameren's Labadie Plant

There were heated moments during a public hearing about a proposed coal-ash landfill Tuesday night.

“You don’t seem like you’ve got respect for life,” Festus resident Gary Kappler told an Ameren official.

Kappler was concerned about the impact on drinking water.

Warren Wood, Ameren Missouri’s vice president of legislative and regulatory affairs, responded to Kappler, saying, “I very much care about life.”

More than 100 people turned out for a public hearing on the proposed landfill Tuesday night at East Central College.

Ameren Missouri is planning to build the landfill next to its power generating facility in Labadie.

Residents worry that the landfill would be built in a floodplain and floodway of the Missouri River.

The purpose of the hearing Tuesday night was to give residents a chance to voice their concerns about the project to the Missouri Public Service Commission. The PSC did not make any decision regarding the landfill during the hearing.

Ameren is seeking a certificate of public convenience and necessity from the Missouri PSC to expand the boundaries of its Labadie Energy Center for the landfill.

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

Ameren wants the landfill operational by April of 2016.

The 800-acre landfill “footprint” would include access roads, groundwater monitoring equipment and the actual coal-ash landfill. The actual coal ash storage would only be about 167 acres, according to Ameren.

Residents opposed to the landfill worry that it would contaminate drinking water from wells and the Missouri River. Much of the opposition is from a group of people affiliated with the Labadie Environmental Organization.

“Ameren has been cited for issues surrounding coal-waste handling, yet wants expansion (for) a coal-waste landfill,” said LEO President Patricia Schuba.

But Ameren officials say the landfill would be safe with a liner and groundwater monitoring equipment.

“It’s common to build in a floodplain for this material,” Wood said.

But Ann Schwetye of St. Louis County said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Association of State Floodplain Managers advises against building in a floodway.

The hearing included sworn testimony from dozens of people concerned with the planned landfill.

In fact, the hearing went so late that some people left early because it almost ran to midnight. Therefore, another hearing might be scheduled to ensure everyone has been given a chance to speak

For more information on the hearing, please see the weekend edition of The Missourian.