Vistra, Move Your Ash!
Send Letter to Governor Rauner and IEPA Director Messina
In 2011, Dynegy closed its power plant on the Middle Fork of the Vermilion River, in east-central Illinois. Vistra, the current owner, wants to close coal ash pits that contain the 3.3 million cubic yards of toxic coal ash. For over 55 years, ash was dumped in pits built in the floodplain of the Middle Fork, Illinois’ only National Scenic River. That’s enough coal ash to fill Chicago's Willis (Sears) Tower with coal ash nearly 2 times!
Coal ash is what’s left over after coal is burned. It contains some of the world’s deadliest toxic metals, such as arsenic, lead, mercury, cadmium, chromium and selenium. These and other chemicals found in coal ash can cause birth defects, cancer, and brain damage in humans, and can harm and kill wildlife, especially fish.
Two of the ash pits are leaking, polluting surface and groundwater with this deadly waste. The third sits over a mine void, raising concerns over long-term stability. The Middle Fork is severely eroding banks next to these ash pits, and erosion is occurring at a rate 2.5 to 9 times faster than previously predicted. If these impoundments are breached, millions of gallons of toxic coal ash will flow into the river.
Instead of moving its waste, Vistra wants to cover the ash pits, armor riverbanks with rock, and permanently leave them in the floodplain.
It's Happened Before ...
In 2008 a massive coal ash spill in Kingston, TN sent 5.5 million cubic yards of toxic coal ash into the Clinch and Emory Rivers. So far, the cost of clean-up is $1.2 billion and mounting. Then, in 2014, a Duke Energy plant in NC sent 46,000 cubic yards of toxic coal ash into the Dan River, extending 70 miles downstream. The bill for cleanup is now over $50 million, and growing. The amount of coal ash from Duke Energy’s spill is comparable to 1% of the volume of coal ash stored on the Dynegy site.
Ask Governor Rauner and IEPA Director Messina to require Vistra to move its toxic waste far from the Middle Fork. That’s the only solution that will, in perpetuity, protect the river from ongoing pollution and communities from a catastrophic coal ash spill.