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Landfill permit for power plant could be years away

by Mark Vasto
Landmark reporter

Platte County residents worried about pollution from a proposed coal-fired power plant in Iatan will have a chance to air out their concerns next Thursday, Jan. 8 at West Platte High School cafeteria in Weston. The meeting will begin at 5 p.m. and will be hosted by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (MODNR).

“We’re going to be there and we have a lot of questions,” said Susan Brown, chairperson of the power plant commitee for Concerned Citizens of Platte County, a local organization which opposes the plant.

“Specifically, we want to know what is going into the landfill, what is the toxicity level of the waste, the possibility that the waste could leech into our water supply and whether or not they are using the best available pollution control technology.”

Unfortunately for Brown and residents, already frustrated at their perceived inability to have suitable public discourse on the power plant project, this meeting will not be open to public comment either.

“This is just a public awareness meeting designed to outline the permitting process,” Steven Wyatt, an enviromental engineer for MODNR , told The Landmark. “It’s an open house kind of meeting... we’ll have some handouts and a powerpoint presentation describing the stages (of the process) but there will be no public comment.”

The MODNR is charged with approving air and solid waste permits for the proposed plant.

Wyatt said that representatives from Great Plains Power, the company who plans on building the power plants, may be in attendance at the meeting but they would not present information or answer public questions at the meeting.

“They might be there, but this is our show,” Wyatt said. The “show” will not feature any information on the environmental impact the plant will have. The Weston meeting will only focus on the permitting application for the solid waste portion of the plan.

Wyatt, who only works with the solid waste portion of the site, described a process that could take years before a permit would be issued.

“The permit can take anywhere between two and two and half years to acquire, depending on how soon they jump on the geological studies,” Wyatt said.

The geological portion of the process calls for boring into the proposed site and monitoring ground water levels for a minimum of 12-months so as to measure potential impacts to the area’s water supply.

Great Plains Power officials, who did not return repeated phone calls, have said they aren’t certain if the plant will be built at all but have also stated that any construction for the plant would begin in late 2004. The company put in a preliminary site request to the MODNR on Sept. 11, 2003.