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Ameren Shareholders Holding Company Accountable

Tanya Koonce / Peoria Public Radio

Ameren Corp.shareholders are holding the St. Louis-based company accountable for coal ash contamination at current and former facilities in Illinois and Missouri.

Shareholders narrowly passed a resolution by the faith-based Midwest Coalition for Responsible Investment at the company’s annual meeting in Peoria Thursday. It requires Ameren to publicly disclose its efforts to cleanup coal ash.

There are 25 coal-fired power plants in Illinois that all have combustion residual waste commonly called coal ash.

Andrew Rhen, a water resources engineer with Prairie Rivers Network says power plants storing coal ash on their grounds pose a risk.

“At all these sites a wide range of contaminants like arsenic, chromium and thaliam were present at levels above the drinking water standard." said Rhen. "So, coal ash is polluting our environment across Illinois. And while Ameren doesn’t own any operating coal fired power plants in Illinois anymore, they’re still responsible for coal ash at closed facilities.”

Andrew Knott with the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign says coal ash is known to cause water contamination.   

“It is in the best interests of both Ameren and its shareholders to clean-up coal ash waste sites and ensure communities and groundwater are protected for years to come,” Knott said.

The E.D. Edwards plant near Peoria used to be owned by Ameren --- it's currently owned by Texas-based Dynegy. Ameren says it’s currently implementing federal coal ash rules while making modifications and changes needed to close all ash ponds, and will honor the request for a report in the next six months.

Tanya Koonce is the News Director at Peoria Public Radio. She has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Journalism from Eastern Illinois University, and a M.A. in Public Affairs Reporting from the University of Illinois Springfield. Tanya started her news career in TV, managed two political campaigns after college, worked in state government and did some state association work before going back to school. Post master’s degree, she’s worked in commercial radio and operated her own freelance agency before taking a reporter position at WCBU in 2001, and becoming news director in 2008. She’s currently serving as the Treasurer of the Illinois News Broadcaster’s Association, lives in Peoria and loves discovering interesting people, places and things.
Kristin McHugh is an experienced radio journalist and nonprofit manager. Most recently, she served as executive director of the Peoria Area World Affairs Council.