ST. LOUIS (AP) — A federal judge has ruled that Ameren Missouri's coal-fired power plant near St. Louis violates the Clean Air Act and has created "significantly more pollution" since modifications were made.
U.S. District Judge Rodney Sippel's ruling Monday could require St. Louis-based Ameren to install additional pollution control equipment at the Rush Island power plant in Jefferson County. Ameren Missouri called the ruling disappointing and said an appeal is planned.
Ameren Missouri modified the plant in 2007 and 2010. The U.S. Department of Justice filed suit on behalf of the Environmental Protection Agency in 2011, alleging that upgrades to boilers significantly increased emissions of sulfur dioxide. The government said Ameren should have applied for a permit for those upgrades, which would have required the company to install additional pollution controls.
The judge agreed.
"The United States has also established that Ameren actually emitted significantly more pollution as a result of the projects," Sippel wrote in the 195-page ruling.
In a statement Tuesday, Ameren Missouri president Michael Moehn said the company disagrees with the ruling and believes the court "misapplied the law and ignored the evidence presented at trial." He said the plant "is among the most efficient plants in the country and burns some of the lowest sulfur coal available."
The environmental advocate group the Sierra Club applauded the ruling.
"This is the latest example of Ameren thumbing its nose at the law and prioritizing profit over public health," Andy Knott of the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal Campaign in Missouri said in a statement.
The EPA's website says short-term exposure to sulfur dioxide can harm the respiratory system and make breathing difficult. Children, the elderly and those with asthma are particularly sensitive to the effects of it. Sulfur dioxide can also contribute to acid rain and damage trees and plants.