A comprehensive study of the groundwater surrounding Ameren Missouri’s Labadie Energy Center concludes there are no adverse effects on human health resulting from coal ash management practices at the facility. The study was conducted by AECOM, an environmental consulting firm retained by Ameren Missouri to study ground and surface water at the site.
When reviewing groundwater data associated with coal ash management, AECOM noted the importance of looking for the presence – or lack – of high concentrations of two chemicals: sulfate and boron. AECOM said that if any release of coal ash into the groundwater had occurred, these two indicators would be present in significant concentrations. Boron and sulfate are more soluble than other elements found in coal ash and would be the first to be detected in groundwater.
AECOM’s study concluded that, based upon the data, neither sulfate or boron concentrations are elevated in groundwater and surface water around or near the Labadie Energy Center. Ameren Missouri installed monitoring wells adjacent to the closest residential properties and confirmed both the direction of groundwater flow and compliance with drinking water standards. AECOM's toxicologist who developed the study, Dr. Lisa Bradley, concluded drinking water supplies have not been impacted and are safe. The full report is available online.
“In our continuing commitment to the environment and to ensure the safety of the community, we brought in an outside firm to objectively analyze local drinking water supplies,” said Michael Menne, vice president of Environmental Services for Ameren Missouri. “This study affirms our longstanding view that the Labadie ash storage areas are not adversely affecting the integrity of local private wells and public waters."
Dr. Bradley holds a Ph.D. from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and has more than 20 years of experience in the field. In her report, she wrote that AECOM collected and analyzed more than 100 groundwater and surface samples from the proposed landfill site, the nearby Missouri River and Labadie Creek. U.S. Environment Protection Agency protocols were followed in studying the data within the context of a risk assessment report. Mark Haddock, a senior hydrogeological engineer from Golder Associates Inc. who was educated at the University of Missouri- Rolla, also contributed to the report.
Ameren Missouri is currently seeking permission from the state of Missouri and Franklin County authorities to build a utility waste landfill for the Labadie Energy Center. The new landfill enables Ameren Missouri to make the transition from collecting coal ash in a "wet" condition to managing the ash in a state-of-the-art "dry" landfill that includes an extensive groundwater monitoring system.
The report from AECOM also noted that, as noted in the attached graph, that groundwater, under normal river conditions, flows toward the river and not towards the Missouri River bluffs where residential water wells are located. It is important to note that residential drinking water wells are finished in the bedrock aquifer, not the alluvial aquifer where the plant and ash ponds are located.
“The proposed landfill at Labadie will incorporate state-of-the-art engineering design elements to protect the environment,” Menne said. "The landfill will be protected by a berm that is tall enough to protect against a 500-year flood event, three feet taller than the historic 1993 flood."
Ameren Missouri has been providing electric and gas service for more than a century, and its electric rates are among the lowest in the nation. The company serves 1.2 million electric and 127,000 natural gas customers in central and eastern Missouri. Its mission is to meet their energy needs in a safe, reliable, efficient and environmentally responsible manner. Ameren Missouri’s service area covers 63 counties and more than 500 towns, including the greater St. Louis area. For more information, visit AmerenMissouri.com.
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