Every year, the nation’s coal plants produce 140 million tons of coal ash pollution, the toxic by-product that is left over after the coal is burned.
Environmental advocates believe there are many spots around Missouri where coal ash has contaminated ground and surface waters.
Last week, the owner of a suburban St. Louis business, Rotary Drilling Supply Inc., reached a settlement with the Environmental Protection Agency over the unauthorized disposal of coal ash, which is the waste produced when coal is burned to produce electricity.
Under the settlement, Rotary Drilling must place a cap over the ash piles to prevent runoff and take other measures to ensure against further pollution. The company must also restore impacted wetlands. The ash came from Ameren’s Rush Island plant in Jefferson County.
Ameren has been in the spotlight lately regarding all the coal ash debate.
The main concern is that coal ash almost always contains 6 contaminants: mercury, lead, chromium, selenium, boron, lead, and arsenic. The public health hazards and environmental threats to nearby communities from unsafe coal ash dumping have been known for many years, including increased risk of cancer, learning disabilities, neurological disorders, birth defects, reproductive failure, asthma, and other illnesses.
Studies show that people living just within a mile of an unlined coal ash pit can have 5000% greater chance of getting cancer.
Given that the EPA has started finding violations in Missouri, it may be time to get looked at by a medical professional if you live anywhere near the areas that deal with coal ash, especially Jefferson County. Furthermore, anywhere downstream from Jefferson County could also be effected.
Ameren, ranked #340 in the Fortune 500, makes over a half-billion dollars a year just in profits. There seems to be no excuse why some of that money could not be spent on protecting citizens from the dangers of coal ash. But, if anything, companies producing coal ash, such as Ameren, certainly have the money to compensate those harmed by coal ash contamination.