Ameren: Request for Report on Coal Combustion Residuals

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WHEREAS: The World Economic Forum 2015 Global Risk Report ranked water as the top societal risk facing the world in terms of potential economic impact.  The Human Right to Water, formally recognized by the United Nations in 2010, clarifies that it is the responsibility of companies to ensure their operations do not infringe upon the right of individuals to sufficient, safe, acceptable, accessible, and affordable water. This human right is further buttressed by the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 6, which includes a target for improving water quality by reducing pollution and minimizing the discharge of hazardous chemicals and materials. 

Coal combustion residual (CCR) waste is a by-product of burning coal and contains arsenic, mercury, lead and other heavy metals and toxins.   

In October 2015, the EPA CCR Rule became effective, setting minimum federal standards for CCR disposal.  While Ameren has thus far filed the minimum information required by the CCR Rule, significant questions remain regarding risks posed by its numerous ash ponds along the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers.  In 2017, 46.47% of shareholders supported a resolution requesting a report on Ameren’s efforts to identify and reduce environmental and health hazards associated with water discharge Practice and Policy.  Ameren has responded with only general information regarding the risks associated with its coal ash disposal practices. 

  • Ameren plans to leave coal ash in its ash ponds when it closes them, unlike other utilities in Missouri and elsewhere, even where the ponds were dug deep into groundwater; ash can readily contaminate groundwater and surface water indefinitely.
  • Where Ameren already knows of groundwater contamination caused by its ash ponds, there is no indication that it has taken steps to clean up existing contamination or provided meaningful estimates of future cleanup costs.

    Ameren has submitted but not received third-party Verification for the CDP Water 2017 report:
  • Ameren’s primary coal source is the Powder River Basin; Ameren continues to claim that PRB is not a water stressed area despite reports by World Business Council of Sustainable Development and others.
  • Despite its claims that “our facilities are located in an area of ample water supply,” Ameren admits that if facilities would need to close due to lack of water availability, the financial impact would be ‘medium-high.’  
  • Ameren has reported no data on water quality, pollution in discharges, or thermal impacts.

BE IT RESOLVED:  Shareholders request that the Board prepare a complete report on the company’s efforts, above and beyond current compliance, to identify and reduce environmental and health hazards associated with past, present and future handling of coal combustion residuals, and how those efforts may reduce legal, reputational and financial risks to the company.  This report should be available to shareholders within 6 months of the 2018 annual meeting, be prepared at reasonable cost, and omit confidential information such as proprietary data or legal strategy.

Resolution Details

Company: Ameren Corporation

Lead Filer: School Sisters of Notre Dame Central Pacific Province

Year: 2018

Filing Date: 
December 2017

Initiative(s): Coal

Status: Pending

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