Environmentalists Voice Concern Over City Utilities' Coal Ash Landfill Proposal

By Linda Ong | long@kolr10.com

Published 06/09 2014 10:28PM

Updated 06/09 2014 10:40PM

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Environmentalists worry about a City Utilities proposal to expand a coal ash landfill.

"We're about to reach the end of the lifespan of the existing landfill that we have out there," said Joel Alexander, City Utilities Communications Director.

Alexander said City Utilities is proposing to put future coal ash on another section of the John Twitty Energy Plant property.

"We wanted to look and see is there a place out there where we can safely do this? We feel there is, and we want to do that by doing a detailed site investigation," he said.

An analysis by the Department of Natural Resources from 2013 concluded the site was quote "a significant potential for catastrophic collapse."

The Sierra Club said the coal ash landfill would put groundwater at risk for contamination.

"Coal ash is known to be toxic, it's particularly toxic to children, infants, and fetuses," said Judy Dasovich, physician and local Sierra Club leader.

But an amendment passed in the legislature exempted city utilities from the preliminary investigation.

"City Utilities decided they didn't want to accept that conclusion and they got a legislation workaround through Representative Lincoln Hough.

A new report by the Sierra Club shows contributions from donors associated with the electric utility industry to Representative Hough, which totaled $1,900.

"I don't want my ratepayer money to be used in anybody's election campaign," said Dasovich.

Alexander said the two options are to either utilize the current property or to move the ash to another site. He said the current survey at $4.8 million dollars is less costly than moving the site, which would cost about $100 million.

But not all agree.

"Yes it might cost more money, but it also costs money to be sick, and to have a neurologically abnormal child or baby, and the health cost of ruining our waterways is tremendous," she said.

According to City Utilities, the full site study will take about five years.

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