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Ameren, Labadie coal fired power plant

Ameren Missouri's coal-fired Labadie power plant, located along the southern bank of the Missouri River in Franklin County, as seen on Thursday, May 23, 2019. The 2,372-megawatt power plant opened in 1970 and is by far the largest producer of electricity for Ameren. (Photo by David Carson,

Regarding “Critics say Ameren has made up its mind to leave coal ash in the ground at St. Louis-area power plants” (July 7): I applaud the Post-Dispatch for keeping the public informed about Ameren’s plans for the disposal of coal waste.

Does Ameren expect us to believe that leaving millions of tons of waste, which have collected at the bottom of ponds, will not pollute the water we drink? Most of those ponds are in flood plains and are in contact with ground water.

Coal ash contains concentrated amounts of water-soluble, cancer-causing chemicals like arsenic. Ameren has already detected several heavy metals above drinking water standards surrounding four of their St. Louis coal ash power plant ponds. We have every reason to believe those pollutants will move off site. Coal ash dump sites in contact with rivers and aquifers elevate the risk of harm compared with those located in dry environments. Being a pediatrician, I know no amount of arsenic in our water is safe. Leaving the waste in place poses too high a risk for those of us who are exposed to the consequences.

Ameren has a moral, if not regulatory, reason to stop spending millions of dollars looking for loopholes in the law so that it can perpetuate its poor decision to pollute our groundwater. Ameren should do what is right: excavate the ponds and properly landfill all its coal waste.

Dr. Jerry Friedman • Labadie