Ameren Coal Ash 2011
|Subject(s)||Climate Change; Coal; Coal Ash; Community Impacts; Water Pollution|
|Resolved Clause Summary||Coal ash risk mitigation report|
|Supporting Memo||Download PDF|
WHEREAS: Coal combustion waste (CCW) is a by-product of burning coal and contains high concentrations of arsenic, mercury, heavy metals and other toxins filtered out of smokestacks by pollution control equipment. CCW is stored in landfills, impoundment ponds or abandoned mines. Over 130 million tons of CCW are generated each year in the U.S.
Coal combustion represents two-thirds (67%) of Ameren’s generating capacity in Missouri, and a significant portion (33%) of Ameren’s national generation capacity.
The toxins in CCW have been linked to cancer, organ failure, and other serious health problems. In October 2009, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a report finding: “Pollutants in coal combustion wastewater are of particular concern because they can occur in large quantities (i.e., total pounds) and at high concentrations …in discharges and leachate to groundwater and surface waters.” (Proposed CCW Rule)
Ameren also provides a significant portion of its CCW for re-use. While CCW has several beneficial re-uses, it can also pose public health and environmental risks.
In June 2010, the EPA proposed to regulate CCW under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act to ensure that federal standards are in place to address risks associated with CCW disposal.
The EPA has found evidence at over 60 sites in the U.S. that CCW has polluted ground and surface waters. The EPA has classified 27 of these sites as proven damage sites, and is continuing to investigate additional sites.
EPA states that the disposal of CCW “in unlined surface impoundments … can pose significant risks to human health and the environment from releases of CCR toxic constituents to ground water and surface water.” Ameren operates 19 active unlined coal ash ponds in Missouri and Illinois.
Leaching of CCW contaminants from inactive unlined ponds at Ameren’s Venice, IL coal power plant has resulted in high concentrations of arsenic, boron, and cadmium in excess of federal and state standards at the plant site and in off-site groundwater wells. Costs of containment and clean-up, in addition to an estimated $11.2 million to cap the ponds, are currently unknown but may be significant.
Ameren’s 1992 water permit application for the Labadie, MO plant noted that an unlined CCW pond in use since 1970 was leaking up to 51,000 gallons per day. There is no indication that the leaks have been remedied or that any measures to monitor groundwater or address on-site contamination are in place.
RESOLVED: Shareholders request that the Board prepare a report on the company’s efforts, above and beyond current compliance, to identify and reduce environmental and health hazards associated with past and present handling of coal combustion waste, and how those efforts may reduce legal, reputational and other risks to the company’s finances and operations. This report should be available to shareholders within 6 months of the 2011 annual meeting, be prepared at reasonable cost, and omit confidential information such as proprietary data or legal strategy.