Proposed mine carries risk
Residents of Homer, Sidell, Allerton and surrounding areas are learning what might be their fate. Recently in West Virginia, chemicals used to wash coal leaked into the Elk River causing serious contamination. The water treatment company circulated this fouled water for hours before heeding complaints that something was wrong.
In the wake of this spill, the state shut down everything downstream and 300,000 citizens have been living on bottled water ever since. While the noxious substance is not deadly to humans, there are ill effects. No authority seems ready to recommend contact with it for any purpose.
The noxious offender is roughly the consistency of motor oil, is greasy and acts as a foaming agent in washing coal. At the proposed Bulldog Mine near Homer, Sunrise Coal will likewise be using a coal washing agent, though not the exact same one. The planned impoundments that contain the used wash water will be contaminated with the washing agent along with mercury, lead, arsenic, selenium and other toxics. A steady flow from the impoundments will make its way to our local rivers and streams. In addition, the impoundments with their thin clay lining are always at risk of leaking into private wells or rupturing. Is this the future for southwest Vermilion County?
We can only hope that the coal washing chemical planned for the Bulldog Mine, which can still be stopped with enough citizen involvement, is thoroughly checked out by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency. We deserve to know what chemicals we could be exposed to.