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Ask Curious Louis: Tracking Missouri’s Toxic Coal Ash Ponds

An aerial shot of one closed and one partially closed coal ash pond at the Meramec Energy Center in St. Louis in February 2018.
Ameren Missouri

Coal-fired power plants used to dispose of coal ash by dumping it into ponds, resulting in millions of cubic yards of toxic waste in pits in the ground.

Eli Chen, St. Louis Public Radio’s science reporter, published a two-part investigation into coal ash ponds in Missouri. Read her coverage: Data From Missouri Utilities Shows Polluted Groundwater Near Massive Pits Of Coal Waste

Environmental activists have long expressed concerns that coal ash — which contains mercury, lead, arsenic and other cancer-causing chemicals — could contaminate groundwater and pose health risks to rural residents who depend on wells for their drinking water. There is also fear that future floods could cause the nearby Missouri and Mississippi rivers to spill into the ponds and local waterways. Last fall, floodwaters caused by Hurricane Florence breached a coal ash pond in Wilmington, North Carolina.

Have a question about coal ash or its impact on the environment? Ask in the box below: What do you want to know about the new state plan to regulate ponds? What should our reporters be asking? We’ll use your questions to inform our reporting, and we’ll share answers as we find them here: 9 Questions Answered About Missouri’s Toxic Coal Ash Ponds


For more about coal ash contamination, read our previous coverage:

Follow Eli on Twitter: @StoriesByEli

Follow Lindsay on Twitter: @StLouisLindsay

Send questions and comments about this story to feedback@stlpublicradio.org

Lindsay is the senior engagement producer at St. Louis Public Radio.