Sierra Club, a national environmental group, has sued the St. Louis-based utility company Ameren over “thousands of violations of federal clean air laws.” The group is asking the court to levy financial penalties for past violations in addition to requiring Ameren to reduce air pollution at its three power plants.

According to the environmental group, testing shows almost 8,000 clean air law violations since March 2009. The three power plants with violations include the Meramec power plant in St. Louis County, the Rush Island power plant in Jefferson County and the Labadie plant in Franklin County. The plants range in age from 38 to 60 years old.

In a news conference outside the federal courthouse in downtown St. Louis, Sierra Club members cited research linking the power plants to thousands of instances of asthma, heart attacks and premature deaths among area residents.

“Our region is considered the toxic triangle because of all the polluting industries,” said Gary Kappler, an area resident suffering from chronic bronchitis, in a BND article.

Additionally, Ameren is preparing to build a coal ash landfill next to the Labadie power plant. Construction is currently delayed due to a request by Franklin County to include six additional groundwater monitoring wells at the landfill. Many environmental groups, including Sierra Club, are opposed to the creation of the coal ash landfills due to the potential for coal ash pollution – one of the deadliest and most dangerous forms of air pollution.

Also called fine particle pollution, coal ash is made of soot, heavy metals, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides. Coal ash particles are miniscule in size and can be easily inhaled, collecting in the lungs and absorbing into the blood stream. Similar to cigarette smoke, coal ash particles can irritate and damage delicate lung tissue.

The environmental lawyers at the Firm are currently investigating claims that coal ash pollution in St. Louis and surrounding areas has led to serious respiratory problems. If you or someone you love lives near the Ameren power plants and has been diagnosed with serious respiratory issues, please contact us today.