- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 3, 2015

ST. LOUIS (AP) - A Missouri electrical utility said Tuesday it will move forward with plans to build a coal ash landfill next to its power plant in eastern Missouri, despite a ruling by the state Supreme Court that reversed a lower court’s decision that allowed the landfill’s construction.

The ruling comes about a month after the Missouri Department of Natural Resources granted a construction permit for the 167-acre landfill, which will collect waste generated from coal burned for electricity at the power plant at Labadie, an unincorporated town about 45 miles southwest of St. Louis.

“The DNR permit remains valid and we plan to continue with construction,” Ameren spokesman Brian Daniels said late Tuesday afternoon.

The lawsuit filed by environmentalists and some nearby residents cited the potential for groundwater contamination and the plant’s location in the Missouri River floodway.

Ameren has said the landfill is needed as on-site coal ash storage ponds become full. The St. Louis-based utility said the landfill will have a protective liner and extensive pollution monitoring equipment.

Patricia Schuba, president of the board of the Labadie Environmental Organization, said the court’s decision “puts a shadow of a doubt” about whether the landfill can be legally built.

“It’s been a long fight, five long years of trying to get a court or a regulator to appreciate the concerns of the public,” she said.

The state Supreme Court ruled that the Franklin County Commission’s hearing on a zoning change for the landfill was insufficient because members of the public were not allowed to speak.

“Just as the public is entitled to a reasonable and fair notice of the subject matter of the hearing, it follows that the public hearing should be conducted so that the public can address the subject matter of the proposed zoning amendments,” the Supreme Court ruled.

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