IEPA Panel Applauded for Bringing Hearings Here

IEPA Panel Applauded for Bringing Hearings Here

If you were unable to attend Tuesday’s hearings in Danville hosted by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency on coal ash, there is still time to submit your comments.  Written comments will be accepted through March 30th of next year.  Many people who attended Tuesday’s hearings thanked the Illinois E.P.A. for hosting them in Danville.

Vermilion County Board member Kevin Green told the panel that placing a cap on the coal ash stored near the National Scenic Middle Fork River – or putting a skirt around it – is not going to solve the problem.   He said there must be a comprehensive plan to keep any coal ash from getting into the river.

Andrew Rehn, a water resources engineer with Prairie Rivers Network, noted the river changes course over time….

{‘’The Middle Fork is very actively meandering.  That means when we talk about the short term or the long term – we think about 50 to 100 years from now – this river’s moving back and forth.  So if they want to leave the ash in that flood plain, it’s going to need to be able to be safe, not just now, but in 100 years,’’ said Rehn, ‘’because that ash is going to move around.  And it’s going to move around any armoring that they put in, too.’’}

And Rehn explained what his group – Prairie Rivers Network – would like to see in the new rules….

{‘’We’re really look for rules that are strong and comprehensive that keep coal ash from remaining saturated by groundwater.  So the way it gets stored for forever is a way in which it can’t get wet, because wet ash is going to be leaching contaminants out into the groundwater and then that can spread to surface water, drinking water (and) wells.  And another real focus on the rule-making process is that when they do the technical analysis that they’re really doing a really detailed look on each alternative,’’ said Rehn.]

Some of the people who spoke at the hearings urged the IEPA to test the river multiple times each year through perpetuity to make sure there is no run-off from the coal ash seeping into the river.   And some urged the IEPA panel to require whatever companies placed coal ash along Illinois’ rivers to pay into a fund.  The money would make sure taxpayers are not saddled with the cost if there are problems with the coal ash years from now.

Some local environmental groups have been concerned for years about the coal ash stored in pits near a former Dynegy Power plant which is north of Kickapoo State Park.