Friday, December 13, 2013

Community and health leaders demand clean air in St. Louis; Utility may face leagl action after decades of coal pollution

An environmental group says it plans to sue Missouri utility provider Ameren, over repeated violations of federal clean air act.

The Sierra Club says that the Ameren Corporation has racked up nearly 10,000 violations of the Clean Air Act since 2008 at coal-fired power plants in St. Louis, Jefferson and Franklin counties.

In an ironic twist the company's own data may be it's downfall in the case. Ameren reports data from its coal plants’ monitoring systems quarterly to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR). In an effort to investigate and protect Missouri’s air, the Sierra Club requested the data from Missouri DNR, which revealed egregious violations of the Clean Air Act by exceeding the opacity limits allowed in Ameren’s permit on thousands of occasions between 2008 and 2013.

“Particle pollution can get deep down into lungs and cause respiratory and pulmonary problems,” said Dr. William Kincaid, MD, MPH, former Director of Health for the City of St. Louis and current Chairman of the St. Louis Regional Asthma Consortium. Opacity is one way of measuring particle pollution. "Ameren’s own data shows that it recorded close to 10,000 opacity violations, which means that St. Louis communities are repeatedly exposed to unlawful amounts of dangerous pollution."

Ameren’s Meramec coal plant emits sits just a mile down the road from an elementary schools.

“We can’t allow our children to be exposed to this dangerous coal pollution anymore," said Karl Frank, Jr., St. Louis County Father and former Mehlville School Board member. "It is time for Ameren to start investing in more clean energy like wind and solar so we can halt the consequences of coal pollution on our children.”

Research by the Clean Air Task Force has shown that pollution from Ameren’s Labadie coal plant in Franklin County, Meramec coal plant in St. Louis County and Rush Island coal plant in Jefferson County contribute to 3,870 asthma attacks, 360 heart attacks and 226 premature deaths every year.

The Ameren Corporation (NYSE: AEE) is a Fortune 500 company with assets of $23 billion. It serves 2.4 million electric customers and more than 900,000 natural gas customers in Illinois and Missouri.



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