A report released this month by the Environmental Integrity Project, a nonprofit anti-pollution organization, said Ameren’s coal-fired power plant in Labadie is responsible for the most premature deaths from emissions per year.
That finding is based on research by EIP researchers and Dr. Jonathan Levy, a public health professor at Boston University.
According to Dr. Levy’s findings, the Labadie plant’s emissions were responsible for an estimated 140 to 290 premature deaths last year.
Using statistical values from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, he estimated that the plant costs more to society, $490 to $960 million a year, than it produces in electricity, $358 million annually.
According to the report, the Labadie plant emitted 57,947 tons of sulfur dioxide and 9,890 tons of nitrogen dioxide into the air last year.
The EPA has environmental regulations in place for both gasses.
Nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide both can cause respiratory diseases including emphysema and bronchitis and can aggravate existing heart disease, according to the EPA.
The Labadie plant also emitted 1,698 tons of fine particulate matter in 2010, the most recent data available from the government.
The estimated number of deaths in the report is based on two previous studies which calculated premature mortality from fine particle exposure.
The relationship between exposure and mortality is linear,” according to the report.
The EPA made a similar conclusion in 2009, stating “the evidence is sufficient to conclude that the relationship between long-term (fine particulate matter) exposures and mortality is causal.”
The Labadie plant was one of 51 selected for the study. All of the plants studied “do not have modern scrubbers and have not announced plans to install any.”
All of the plants combined to have a “social cost” of $23-47 billion a year.
“Reducing pollution from these plants will not only save lives, but also have significant economic benefits,” according to the report.
The report isn’t the first to list the Labadie plant as a dangerous polluter.
In 2009, the plant ranked 22nd on a list of 100-most polluting coal plants in the nation.
In 2010 another report from the Environmental Integrity Project ranked the Labadie plant as the fourth worst mercury polluter in the country.