Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Coal Ash in the Missouri River Flood Plain Is a Bad Idea

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Coal Ash in the Missouri River Flood Plain Is a Bad Idea

Article excerpt

A few years back, Patricia Schuba of Labadie, Mo., found a severed pig's head in her driveway. Another time someone spray-painted "LEO Pig" on her car.

"LEO" was a reference to her participation in a community group, the Labadie Environmental Organization. Why was she targeted? LEO wanted to have a say in Ameren's plan to build a new coal ash landfill in the Missouri River flood plain.

That's right: a new waste dump for toxic coal ash, right by the river. By logic and science, having coal ash dumps in flood plains is a bad idea. Coal ash contains arsenic, boron, lead, mercury, hexavalent chromium and other known carcinogens.

Ameren's coal-fired power plant at Labadie, like its plant in south St. Louis County (Meramec) and farther north (Sioux) have long polluted air and water. Mercury and sulfur dioxide go into the air. Toxins that leach out of coal waste go into the water. At Labadie one coal ash pond leaked into local groundwater for decades.

LEO did not want the plant shut down, as those trying to silence Patricia claimed. LEO wanted to make sure a new coal ash dump, if it was to be built, would be done right. Yet Ameren supporters spread the idea that Patricia and other community members were radical environmentalists who wanted to take away their jobs. It didn't matter that that was a lie. According to interviews done by Washington University researchers in 2017, Ameren's plant managers rallied their workers against LEO. One business accused of supporting LEO was boycotted and forced to sell. Threatening notes with pasted, cut-out letters were sent to LEO members. It did not stop there. When LEO took the case to court, Ameren used its influence over the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, the Environmental Protection Agency, the courts and, most forcefully, the Franklin County Commission, to push the new landfill through.

At hearings, Ameren bussed in workers . Yet thanks to the efforts of LEO, Ameren's plans to import dirty coal ash from elsewhere were canceled. …

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