Last week Illinois residents spoke out against the dangers posed by coal ash in our state and the need for greater protections.
In the face of newly proposed regulations by the Illinois EPA, environmental groups and local citizens urged the Illinois Pollution Control Board to strengthen the rules and include needed safeguards for communities and waterways.
Coal ash, a waste product of coal combustion, contains numerous heavy toxic metals and can contaminate water resources with arsenic, lead, mercury, among many more. Initial investigations have found groundwater contamination at every single coal-fired power plant studied!
The rules put forth are the first effort to establish criteria for monitoring groundwater and developing cleanup and closure plans for coal ash impoundments at power generating facilities. However, as proposed, the rules fall short of protecting Illinois communities from the public health and financial disasters associated with coal ash contamination.
At the first day of hearings residents from Peoria, Alton, Urbana, and other impacted communities gave testimony as to their concerns that these pits will have on drinking water and the other ways people use Illinois waterways.
Christine Favilla of Alton expressed her concerns about local coal ash pits. “I work, live, and am raising a family near a Dynegy plant that has 4 active coal ash pond cells,” Favilla said. “We are gravely concerned about heavy metals that can cause cancer and brain damage. The IEPA needs to account for the serious health problems that can occur from this waste.”
Robin Garlish of Pekin commented on the threat these pits pose to the Illinois River. “People are fishing, swimming and boating in that river,” said Garlish. “They have no idea about the contamination.”
Following on the heels of a coal ash spill disaster in North Carolina, the hearing marked one of the first opportunities for citizens to have their voices heard on this issue. Citizens spoke eloquently for clean, safe water and the need for the flawed draft rules to be strengthened to adequately protect the people of Illinois.
The hearings will be continued May 14th in Chicago.
September 2015 Update:
IEPA has proposed new rulemakings on characterizing and regulating coal ash pits at power plants in Illinois. Unfortunately, the Agency has recently filed a motion with the Illinois Pollution Control Board (IPCB) to stay the rulemaking proceedings while challenges to the newly adopted federal coal ash rules are addressed.
Act now to make sure the Illinois coal ash rules are finalized and adopted. Tell the Illinois Pollution Control Board to decline the IEPA’s request to stay the coal ash rulemaking proceeding.
To read more and send in comments go to: http://action.sierraclub.org/site/Advocacy?pagename=homepage&id=16391