Local citizens and environmental groups like the Sierra Club went into a Feb. 17 Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR) hearing saying that the DNR should issue a strong permit that limits how much Ameren Missouri can pollute the Missouri River and local groundwater near its Labadie coal-fired power plant in Franklin County.
Wastewater from the 2,407-MW Labadie plant flows into the Missouri River, which is the drinking water source for much of the St. Louis area, the Sierra Club noted in a Feb. 17 statement. The DNR sets limits on the plant’s water pollution through a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit, which is up for public comment. The NPDES permit Ameren currently uses at the Labadie coal plant expired in 1999. In fact, all of Ameren’s St. Louis area coal-fired power plants are operating with expired NPDES permits, the club said.
“After years of allowing Ameren to operate with an outdated permit, it’s important for DNR to issue a permit with much stronger protections from Ameren’s Labadie coal plant pollution,” said Maxine Lipeles, Co-Chair of the Interdisciplinary Environmental Clinic at the Washington University School of Law. “As it stands now, the proposed NPDES permit for the Labadie plant lacks proper safeguards to protect the community and the region.”
“Time and time again, we’ve called on state agencies, public officials and Ameren itself to monitor groundwater at the ash ponds, one of which was leaking for two decades, to determine levels of existing contamination,” said Patricia Schuba, President of the Labadie Environmental Organization. “Unfortunately, in the draft NPDES permit, we see that groundwater monitoring at Labadie’s coal ash ponds is insufficient to protect our community and the environment.”
Beyond threats to human health, the process of drawing into and expelling water from the Labadie coal plant damages local fish and aquatic life, the club said. The endangered pallid sturgeon is particularly threatened by the hot water discharges from the Labadie coal plant, it added.