Hundreds of St. Charles residents pour into EPA, demand an immediate fix to contamination in water system

Published: Nov. 17, 2022 at 10:21 PM CST
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - A standing room only crowd of close to 400 St. Charles residents crammed into the Memorial Hall in Blanchette Park to hear the EPA report on contaminants in the city of St. Charles’ water system, Thursday.

The Findett/Huster Road substation site is about five acres along the Mississippi Flood plain. It’s a superfund site, meaning federal dollars are used to maintain it.

The EPA was stern that the MCL – maximum contaminant level – contaminant levels at and below the MCL are protective of human health – established under Safe Drinking Water Act. Simply, this agency says the water is safe to drink.

The EPA has been investigating this groundwater since 2001.

In 2012, EPA order with Ameren to address contamination. Then from 2014-2018, Ameren conducted four pilot studies that used several cleanup technologies.

Kara Elms, with City of St. Charles Clean Water Advocates told News 4 the evidence seems to point to Ameren Missouri having to take ownership and pay the bill.

“People in the community are concerned the EPA isn’t providing answers we want,” Elms explained. “What are we going to do to hold Ameren accountable, what are they going to do to cleanup their pollution?”

“We found out the contamination is spreading, we found out the EPA is on top of it,” concerned resident Louis Stamm shared. “But so what? Let’s stop it now. How long has this been going on? 20, 30 years? I appreciate the effort but the time is now to stop it.”

The EPA said Ameren has been sampling well six every two weeks since January this year. It shows some contamination has increased but not in the drinking water. The city of St. Charles disagreed with that during Thursday’s public meeting, stating it did its independent study, found contaminants, and that’s why four of the city’s seven wells are currently shut off.

On October 26th, News 4 reported St. Charles officials held a press conference on increased levels of contamination in their water wells. The city said four of its seven water wells are not operational because of unsafe levels of cis-1 and 2-dichloroethene. These chemicals make up a solvent used for things like metal cleaning.

No one from Ameren Missouri was available to speak on camera, Thursday. A spokesperson shared this statement with News 4: “We appreciate the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency hosting tonight’s forum providing answers to the community’s questions and sharing additional information.

It is reassuring to know that the EPA says drinking water in the City of St. Charles and surrounding communities is safe. We also agree with the EPA that more testing and analysis is needed. As everyone heard tonight, the source of the chemical detected at City Well 6 is unknown. Ameren Missouri strongly supports additional EPA-directed testing in the area this year with the cooperation of all parties to determine the source. For many years, Ameren Missouri, the City of St. Charles, the EPA and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources have worked collaboratively on this issue. We intend to continue to do so.”

Ameren Missouri also encourages concerned residents to visit its website for additional information.

Moving forward, the EPA said it’s working with a contractor to assemble a work plan that involves more testing to locate the source of contamination. This plan should be reviewed with city leaders in the next two weeks. The EPA said it does not know the source, but the City of St. Charles stands by its belief that Ameren Missouri is responsible.

The City of St. Charles will now host two public meetings. They will both take place on Monday at 3PM and 6PM inside the Foundry Art Center on the north end of Main Street.