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JEFFERSON CITY – People who live near coal ash ponds share stories about health problems and contaminated water Thursday at a hearing of the Department of Natural Resources.

“We all drink well water, and many of us are scared that the pollution they have found will end up hurting us and our neighbors,” Labadie resident Ella Ault said.

She and her mother, Christine Ault have been attending hearings like these for 10 years, Christine said.

“The fact that almost everyone in the Labadie area is on groundwater and has their own wells is crucial to the fact that we keep coming out time and time again in the hopes that they actually clean this up,” Christine said. 

Groundwater and the safety of areas that utilize it was the main topic at Thursday’s hearing.

The Department of Natural Resources defines groundwater as "water found beneath the Earth's surface. Groundwater eventually resurfaces naturally in artesian wells and springs or can be pumped from wells for use by homes, industries and agriculture.”

Coal ash is the residual of the coal burned by many power plants and facilities. Coal ash ponds are where that ash is deposited.

Many people who spoke Thursday suggested revisions to the state's regulations. They called for clean closure of all coal ash ponds and frequent testing of those ponds. They also said pond standards need to be updated online in plain terms so people can understand the findings.

Chris Nagel, the Solid Waste Management Program director for the Department of Natural Resources, said there have not been any recent cases of contamination due to the deposit of coal ash.

The Department of Natural Resources will be accepting public feedback until March 28.