Labadie Power Station Bottom Ash Pond
- Owner: Union Electric Company
- Parent company: Ameren
- Associated coal plant: Labadie Power Station
- Location: Labadie, MO
- GPS coordinates: 38.5600, -90.8400
- Hazard potential: None
- Year commissioned: 1970
- Year(s) expanded:
- Material(s) stored: Fly ash, Bottom ash, Process water
- Professional Engineer (PE) designed?: Yes
- PE constructed?: Yes
- PE monitored?: Yes
- Significant deficiencies identified: None
- Corrective measures: None
- Surface area (acres): 154
- Storage capacity (acre feet): 11,403
- Unit Height (feet): 30
- Historical releases: None
- Additional notes:
Associated coal waste site
Leak at site
Since 1992, the Labadie Power Station Bottom Ash Pond has been 'seeping' coal waste - up to 35 gallons a minute for two decades. Ameren said there's no evidence the leaks have fouled the groundwater or the drinking water of nearby homes, but critics say that's because neither the state nor the company has ever tested the area for contamination. The Missouri Department of Natural Resources, the agency charged with regulating coal ash ponds and enforcing the Clean Water Act in the state, isn't required to monitor groundwater at the site under current state laws. But it has legal authority to do so under the plant's water permit and hasn't — despite learning of the leaks from Ameren 19 years ago, according to utility filings with the DNR.
Ameren uses water to wash the coal waste to unlined ponds west of the plant. There, the waste sinks to the bottom, and the water drains through a permitted outfall into Labadie Creek and the Missouri River. One pond constructed in 1993, Labadie Power Station Fly Ash Pond, has a protective liner. The leaking 154-acre Labadie Power Station Bottom Ash Pond, which began receiving coal ash when Labadie began operation in 1970, actually has two leaks, according to information provided by Ameren to the DNR. The smaller one, flowing at a rate of up to 5 gallons a minute, is near the wastewater outfall and leaks into the creek. The other leak releases up to 30 gallons a minute on the south side of the pond. Combined, that's the equivalent of more than 50,000 gallons of water escaping the ponds each day, or nearly 350 million gallons over 19 years.
The water discharge permit for the plant expired 12 years ago. Ameren applied for a permit renewal in 1998, but the department has yet to finish its review. Under state law, the plant can legally continue operating under the existing 1994 permit. DNR officials have declined to be interviewed about the leaking ash ponds. Spokeswoman Renee Bungart said the agency has asked Ameren to resubmit its water permit application, but provided no timeline.
Members of the Labadie Environmental Organization said they are concerned because the leaking waste site sits in alluvial soil — a fine mix of silt, sand and clay that's an easy pathway for contamination to migrate via water.
Coal waste in the United States
A January 2009 study by The New York Times following the enormous TVA coal ash spill found that there are more than 1,300 surface impoundments across the U.S. containing coal waste, with some sites as large as 1,500 acres. Also in January 2009, an Associated Press study found that 156 coal-fired power plants store ash in surface ponds similar to the one that ruptured at Kingston Fossil Plant. The states with the most storage in coal ash in ponds are Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, Georgia and Alabama. The AP's analysis found that in 2005, 721 power plants generating at least 100 MW of electricity produced 95.8 million tons of coal ash, about 20 percent of which - or almost 20 million tons - ended up in surface ponds. The rest of the ash winds up in landfills or is sold for other uses. In June 2009, EPA released its list of 44 "high hazard potential" coal waste sites, which included 12 sites in North Carolina, 9 in Arizona, 6 in Kentucky, 6 in Ohio, and 4 in West Virginia. The full list is available here.
- Center for Public Integrity
- Energy Justice Network
- Environmental Integrity Project
- Organic Consumers Association
- Sludge Safety Project
- Sierra Club
- Coal Ash Survey Results, Environmental Protection Agency, accessed December 2009.
- Jeffrey Tomich, "Leaks from Ameren toxic waste pond in Labadie stir fears" stltoday, Sep. 1, 2011.
- Shaila Dewan, "Hundreds of Coal Ash Dumps Lack Regulation," New York Times, January 7, 2009.
- Dina Cappiello, "Toxic Coal Ash Piling up in Ponds in 32 States," Associated Press, January 9, 2009.
- Shaila Dewan, "E.P.A. Lists ‘High Hazard’ Coal Ash Dumps," New York Times, June 30, 2009.
Related GEM.wiki articles
- Coal Ash Safety Issues, Donald Saxman, altenergymag.com (undated)
- "Coal Ash: 130 Million Tons of Waste," 60 Minutes, October 4, 2009.
- Charles Duhigg, "Toxic Waters: Clean Water Laws Are Neglected, At a Cost in Suffering,", New York Times, September 12, 2009.
- Kirstin Lombardi, "Coal ash: The hidden story," Center for Public Integrity, February 19, 2009.
- "Coal Ash: A National Problem Needs a National Solution," Earth Justice fact sheet, January 2009.
- "Toxic Ash: A License to Pollute," Post and Courier, October 26-29, 2008.
- "Coal Combustion Waste," As You May or May Not Know..., March 27, 2008.
- House Committee on Natural Resources, Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources: Oversight Hearing, "How Should the Federal Government Address the Health and Environmental Risks of Coal Combustion Waste?,", June 10, 2007.
- Martha Keating, "Cradle to Grave: The Environmental Impacts from Coal," Clean Air Task Force, June 2001.
- Martha Keating, Ellen Baum and Eric Round, "Laid to Waste: The Dirty Secret of Combustion Waste from America's Power Plants," Citizens Coal Council, Hoosier Environmental Council, Clean Air Task Force, March 2000.