Ameren Coal Ash Risk 2012
|Filer||Midwest Coalition for Responsible Investment|
|Subject(s)||Coal; Coal Ash; Water Pollution|
|Resolved Clause Summary||Coal ash risk mitigation|
|Supporting Memo||Download PDF|
Coal combustion waste (CCW) is a by-product of burning coal and contains high concentrations of arsenic, mercury, lead, and other heavy metals and toxins.
Coal ash disposed of in ponds and landfills has contaminated surface and groundwater at dozens of sites across the country. EPA’s 2009 human and ecological risk assessment of CCW found “very high potential risks from unlined surface impoundments.” In June 2010, the EPA proposed regulations to set minimum federal standards for CCW disposal.
Ameren relies heavily upon coal-based electricity generation, and operates numerous lined and unlined coal ash ponds and landfills.
In 2011, 46.7% of shareholders supported a resolution requesting a report on Ameren’s efforts to identify and reduce environmental and health hazards associated with CCW. In October 2011, Ameren provided a response: six pages on coal ash and additional information on the internet. Neither adequately addresses legal,
reputational, and other risks as requested by the 2011 resolution.
• The Response states that EPA inspected Ameren’s active coal ash ponds and “concluded that the structural integrity of all of our ponds is sound.” To the contrary, of the 24 Missouri and Illinois ponds rated by EPA, 7 were “Poor,” 15 were “Fair,” and only 2 were “Satisfactory.”
• The Response notes community concerns regarding leaks at the unlined Labadie ash pond, and responds that “USEPA observed the seeps and concluded that the structural integrity of Labadie’s ponds is satisfactory.” Yet EPA rated the Labadie ponds as “Fair”. Moreover, “structural integrity” does not address whether the 19 years of significant leakage from Labadie’s unlined pond has contaminated groundwater, and how extensive such contamination may be. The Response fails to mention additional leaks or that everyone in the area uses groundwater for drinking water and agriculture.
• The Response states that Ameren is “increasing the monitoring of groundwater at our ponds.” The Response then mentions “routine monitoring” at its ponds, neglecting to note that Ameren conducts NO groundwater monitoring at its Missouri ponds and making no commitment to do so. The “routine monitoring” covers only surface water discharge and does not include metals or toxins.
• Except for two plants, the Response fails to address future costs of cleaning up, and legal liability for, contamination at ash ponds, including where neighbors rely on groundwater for drinking water.
• The Response indicates that both of the ash EPA-proposed regulations will affect our Company’s operation. While stating some costs “could be material,” the Response provides no financial estimates.
RESOLVED: Shareholders request that the Board prepare a complete 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 2012 annual meeting, be prepared at reasonable cost, and omit confidential information such as proprietary data or legal strategy.