To The Editor:

While I appreciate former County Commissioner Ann Schroeder’s recent letter expressing concern about Ameren Missouri’s construction of a landfill to dispose of coal ash, I would be remiss not to ensure that a full picture of all that’s involved with this process is available to your readers. 

Ameren Missouri’s Labadie Power Plant produces energy to power 220,000 homes and is a critical asset that ensures Missourians have reliable, affordable electricity. Thus, the way coal ash is managed as a result is important. As a part of Ameren’s goal to transition from the management of ash within ponds to a state-of-the-art dry landfill, strict protections and the most advanced construction processes have been put in place. In fact, both the Missouri Department of Natural Resources and the Environmental Protection Agency agree this is the best approach. 

The landfill standards Ameren proposes are environmentally sound. Franklin County’s independent registered engineer concurs that the design fully complies with the county’s landfill ordinance requirements, including placement of the base 2 full feet above the natural water table. Franklin County’s floodplain administrator agrees that building this landfill will not impact the floodplain. The Franklin County Commission crafted a landfill ordinance that ensures the landfill will be designed, constructed and operated in a manner protective of the environment. And the ash that goes into the landfill will form the consistency of cement, so the idea that it would be capable of washing away “downstream” is as plausible as your driveway or a parking lot washing away. 

But the landfill being proposed has protections that go well beyond what goes into the landfill — the landfill itself is constructed to fully contain its contents. It has a berm tall enough to withstand overtopping by a 500-year flood event; is fully lined with geosynthetic and clay liners; has oversized collection and storm management systems; and is surrounded by a robust monitoring well network. The landfill is designed to be a zero discharge facility. 

Franklin County residents, members of BOZA, and even members of Ms. Schroeder’s family are welcome and encouraged to look into the details of this proposal. Empowering the community with information to make their own decisions is a far better way to reach the right outcome than a tit-for-tat back and forth between the advocates of one side or another. 

The development of this project will allow the company to transition away from a “wet” to a “dry” storage system. It’s the right thing to do for Missouri, for the environment and for area residents.