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A contentious Farm Bill heads to U.S. House for debate. Also on our rundown: gaps cited in protections for small-business employees and nonprofit volunteers; plus power out for much of Puerto Rico; and some warning signs, that increased youth activism may not correspond to voter turnout.

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What's In Your Groundwater? Resolution Would Require More Testing

PHOTO: Environmental groups say massive coal-ash spills, like this one in North Carolina last month, aren't the only way contaminants leak into groundwater supplies, which is why they are pushing for stricter regulation of Missouri's coal-ash disposal sites. Photo credit: Sierra Club.
PHOTO: Environmental groups say massive coal-ash spills, like this one in North Carolina last month, aren't the only way contaminants leak into groundwater supplies, which is why they are pushing for stricter regulation of Missouri's coal-ash disposal sites. Photo credit: Sierra Club.
March 13, 2014

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Do you know what's in Missouri's groundwater?

Environmental advocates say there's not enough information to answer that right now.

That's why they support a resolution before the Missouri House today that would require groundwater testing at coal ash disposal sites.

John Hickey, director of the Missouri chapter of the Sierra Club, says this is an issue that affects all Missourians, because those sites are located all across the state.

"They're in St. Louis, they're in metro Kansas City, they're in Springfield,” he points out. “They're in Columbia, they're in Sikeston, and we as Missourians don't know where the contamination is and what the contamination is, so that we can protect the public health."

Coal ash is the byproduct of burning coal for electricity and contains several toxic chemicals, including arsenic, mercury and lead.

Last month the failure of a coal ash storage site sent 82,000 tons of pollutant into a North Carolina river.

Hickey says right now, Missouri lags behind other states, including neighboring Illinois, which require coal-burning utility companies to conduct groundwater monitoring at coal ash disposal sites.

"People in Missouri have just as much of a right to a safe environment as people in Illinois or in any other state in this country,” he says. “We should have groundwater monitoring here so that we can know whether they've contaminated the groundwater."

The public can weigh in on the matter at a hearing today in Jefferson City or by contacting their lawmakers directly about the issue.

Mona Shand, Public News Service - MO