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National Report Condemns Coal Ash Water Pollution From Ameren's Labadie Plant

Sarah Skiold-Hanlin, St. Louis Public Radio

A new report released Tuesday by a coalition of environmental groups focuses on the need to revamp national water pollution standards for coal-fired power plants.

The report cites Ameren's Labadie power plant in Franklin County as one of the worst waterway polluters in the nation.

A small but vocal group of protesters gathered on the banks of the Mississippi River in St. Louis to draw attention to the report.

Credit Sarah Skiold-Hanlin, St. Louis Public Radio
One of the winners from the mock pageant gives her acceptance speech as protesters gather behind her.

Missouri Beyond Coal campaign organizer Sara Edgar said 16 of Missouri's 18 power plants have no limit as to what they can dump in Missouri waterways and there needs to be stricter regulation.

"All of this water that we're seeing flowing behind us is being contaminated by toxic waste water," Edgar said. "And so, these are things like mercury, arsenic, lead, that are just being dumped into our waterways. And 60 percent of Missourians are getting our drinking water from the Missouri River which has seven coal plants on it."

In the national report, the Environmental Integrity Project, Sierra Club, Clean Water Action, Earthjustice and Waterkeeper Alliance call on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to overhaul its more than 30-year-old regulations and sharply reduce human and wildlife exposure to toxic chemicals from coal ash.

The EPA proposed new controls on discharges from coal-fired power plants in June but included a range of possible regulatory actions.

The public can submit comments on EPA's proposed regulation through Sept. 20.

In response to our request for comment on the environmental groups' report, a spokesperson for Ameren provided the following statement:

"The evidence does not support claims regarding pollution in Missouri waterways, and there is no threat to public health.  We meet and in fact operate well below all applicable state and federal water effluent limitations that are fully protective of health. Ameren has a strong environmental compliance program, and we take this commitment very seriously. We are confident we will be able to comply with the effluent guidelines that are expected to come from the EPA."

Follow Sarah Skiöld-Hanlin on Twitter@Skihan

Follow Véronique LaCapra on Twitter@KWMUScience

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