Rush Island Power Station

From Global Energy Monitor

Rush Island Power Station is a 1,242.0-megawatt (MW) coal-fired power station operated by Ameren near Festus, Missouri.


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In January 2017, a U.S. District Court ruled that Ameren had violated the Clean Air Act by making modifications to extend the life of the plant without first obtaining the necessary permits.[1] Over the following years, the company and environmental groups argued in courts about the remedy, with a Judge requiring the company to install scrubbers in a 2019 ruling. The company subsequently appealed that decision, but the appeal was rejected in August 2021.[2] Finally on December 14, 2021, the company announced that it would close the plant by 2024 instead of installing control equipment.[3]

Plant Data

  • Owner: Union Electric Company
  • Parent Company: Ameren
  • Plant Nameplate Capacity: 1,242.0 MW (Megawatts)
  • Units and In-Service Dates: Unit 1: 621.0 MW (1976), Unit 2: 621.0 MW (1977)
  • Location: 100 Big Hollow Rd., Festus, MO 63028
  • GPS Coordinates: 38.131160, -90.262892
  • Technology: Subcritical
  • Coal type: Sub Bituminous
  • Coal Consumption:
  • Coal Source: Black Thunder Mine (Arch Coal), Antelope Coal Mine (Navajo Nation), North Antelope Rochelle Mine (Peabody Energy), Belle Ayr Mine (Bluegrass Commodities)[4]
  • Number of Employees:
  • Unit Retirements: The plant's two coal-fired units were scheduled for retirement in 2039.[5] However, due to court rulings requiring the company to install scrubbers, the company announced in December 2021 that the both units would close 15 years early, no later than March of 2024.[6]

Emissions Data

  • 2006 CO2 Emissions: 8,646,702 tons
  • 2006 SO2 Emissions: 28,674 tons
  • 2006 SO2 Emissions per MWh:
  • 2006 NOx Emissions: 3,967 tons
  • 2005 Mercury Emissions: 535 lb.

Regulatory violations


On January 12, 2011, the EPA filed a lawsuit against Ameren, saying the company violated the New Source Review provisions of the Clean Air Act by completing major changes at the plant without getting the proper permit and without installing required new technologies to reduce emissions of sulfur dioxide. Ameren Missouri denies the allegations, saying the work cited in the lawsuit was routine maintenance exempt from the EPA requirements.[7]

Coal waste

In an administrative order, the Environmental Protection Agency alleged the unauthorized dumping of 140,000 tons of Ameren Missouri's coal ash from 2004 to 2008, fouling wetlands and other nearby waters. All of the ash came from Ameren's Rush Island plant. A May 2013 settlement would require the company to abate impacts of the ash disposal by placing a protective cap over ash piles and installing controls to prevent further migration of pollutants.[8]

Death and disease attributable to fine particle pollution from Rush Island Power Station

In 2010, Abt Associates issued a study commissioned by the Clean Air Task Force, a nonprofit research and advocacy organization, quantifying the deaths and other health effects attributable to fine particle pollution from coal-fired power plants.[9] Fine particle pollution consists of a complex mixture of soot, heavy metals, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen oxides. Among these particles, the most dangerous are those less than 2.5 microns in diameter, which are so tiny that they can evade the lung's natural defenses, enter the bloodstream, and be transported to vital organs. Impacts are especially severe among the elderly, children, and those with respiratory disease. The study found that over 13,000 deaths and tens of thousands of cases of chronic bronchitis, acute bronchitis, asthma, congestive heart failure, acute myocardial infarction, dysrhythmia, ischemic heart disease, chronic lung disease, and pneumonia each year are attributable to fine particle pollution from U.S. coal plant emissions. These deaths and illnesses are major examples of coal's external costs, i.e. uncompensated harms inflicted upon the public at large. Low-income and minority populations are disproportionately impacted as well, due to the tendency of companies to avoid locating power plants upwind of affluent communities. To monetize the health impact of fine particle pollution from each coal plant, Abt assigned a value of $7,300,000 to each 2010 mortality, based on a range of government and private studies. Valuations of illnesses ranged from $52 for an asthma episode to $440,000 for a case of chronic bronchitis.[10]

Table 1: Death and disease attributable to fine particle pollution from the Rush Island Power Station

Type of Impact Annual Incidence Valuation
Deaths 57 $420,000,000
Heart attacks 89 $9,700,000
Asthma attacks 970 $51,000
Hospital admissions 41 $960,000
Chronic bronchitis 35 $16,000,000
Asthma ER visits 62 $23,000

Source: "Find Your Risk from Power Plant Pollution," Clean Air Task Force interactive table, accessed February 2011

Coal Waste Site

Rush Island ranked 32nd on list of most polluting power plants in terms of coal waste

In January 2009, Sue Sturgis of the Institute of Southern Studies compiled a list of the 100 most polluting coal plants in the United States in terms of coal combustion waste (CCW) stored in surface impoundments like the one involved in the TVA Kingston Fossil Plant coal ash spill.[11] The data came from the EPA's Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) for 2006, the most recent year available.[12]

Rush Island Power Station ranked number 32 on the list, with 1,307,769 pounds of coal combustion waste released to surface impoundments in 2006.[11]

Articles and Resources


  1. Gray, Bryce. "Judge orders Ameren to outfit Jefferson County coal plant with a 'scrubber' to reduce air pollution". Retrieved 2021-12-14.
  2. Gray, Bryce. "Experts tell Ameren to dump the scrubbers, close the coal plant". Retrieved 2021-12-14.
  3. Barker, Jacob. "Ameren to shutter Rush Island coal plant 15 years earlier than planned". Retrieved 2021-12-14.
  4. "EIA 923 July 2020" EIA 923 July 2020.
  5. "Ameren’s renewable energy plan sparks questions about costs and its coal plants", October 11, 2020
  6. Barker, Jacob. "Ameren to shutter Rush Island coal plant 15 years earlier than planned". Retrieved 2021-12-14.
  7. "EPA sues Ameren Missouri over improvements at coal-fired power plant in Festus" CB Online, January 13, 2011.
  8. Jeffery Tomich, "EPA proposes Jefferson County coal ash settlement," St. Louis Post Dispatch, May 29, 2013.
  9. "The Toll from Coal: An Updated Assessment of Death and Disease from America's Dirtiest Energy Source," Clean Air Task Force, September 2010.
  10. "Technical Support Document for the Powerplant Impact Estimator Software Tool," Prepared for the Clean Air Task Force by Abt Associates, July 2010
  11. 11.0 11.1 Sue Sturgis, "Coal's ticking timebomb: Could disaster strike a coal ash dump near you?," Institute for Southern Studies, January 4, 2009.
  12. TRI Explorer, EPA, accessed January 2009.

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