The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

Letters to the Editor

June 1, 2014

Appreciates officials' help

Appreciates officials’ help

Editor:

On behalf of Prairie Rivers Network and our members, I would like to thank the Vermilion County Board, Vermilion County Soil & Water Conservation District and Vermilion County Conservation District for their leadership on addressing potential hazards from coal ash located along the Middle Fork of the Vermilion River.

Coal ash is a byproduct of coal combustion and contains high levels of harmful heavy metals such as arsenic, lead and selenium. The coal ash pits along the Middle Fork from the retired Vermilion Station power plant are of particular concern as they are located in the floodplain and two of the three pits are unlined and actively leaching into underlying groundwater.

Dynegy Midwest Generation, L.L.C. has proposed leaving the coal ash in place and simply capping the pits. This is a risky proposal. Groundwater contamination, seepage to the river, and direct discharges of coal ash decant and leachate will continue in perpetuity to the river system if the ash is not removed from the floodplain and placed in an engineered lined dry waste management unit.

We applaud the County Board, Soil & Water Conservation District and Conservation District for recognizing this, unanimously passing resolutions or providing statements of support urging the protection of surface and groundwater, as well as financial assurances that Dynegy will pay for cleanup and closure. The Illinois Pollution Control Board is now considering statewide rules pertaining to coal ash. Voices from community members and local leaders where coal ash is disposed will help the IPC Board shape strong rules.

Carrie Otto

Prairie Rivers Network

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