KCUR News
10:20 am
Fri February 11, 2011

Missouri Among Nation's Top Mercury Polluters

ST. LOUIS, Mo. – A new report suggests that power plants in Illinois and Missouri are among the nation's top emitters of mercury pollution.

Mercury can cause serious health problems for both wildlife and people who eat contaminated fish.

The report by Environment Missouri uses EPA data from 2009 to rank U.S. coal-fired power plants based on their mercury emissions.

Missouri and Illinois ranked 11th and 7th, releasing about 4,000 and 5,000 pounds of mercury, respectively. Texas had the highest emissions of any state, at over 16,000 lbs.

State advocate for Environment Missouri Ted Mathys said although 19 states including Illinois have set their own mercury emission limits for power plants, Missouri has not.

"Missouri state statutes prohibit the Department of Natural resources from enacting state mercury limits on coal fired power plants sooner or stricter than federal standards," Mathys said.

The EPA is expected to propose new limits on mercury and other toxic air pollutants in March.

Mathys said four out of five of the top mercury-emitting plants in Missouri belong to Ameren.

"The Ameren Labadie power plant alone emitted 1,297 pounds, ranking it first among Missouri's plants, and 15th among all 451 power plants analyzed nationally," Mathys said.

In a written statement, Ameren Missouri said it has been "studying mercury control methods" in anticipation of making improvements once new federal rules are finalized.