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Dynegy’s Toxic Coal Ash

Dynegy’s Toxic Coal Ash

This short video was taken by Lan Richart of Eco-Justice Collaborative in April 2016 while kayaking past Dynegy’s three coal ash pits.  Two are unlined and leaking.  One is lined, but sits over mine voids.  All three are in the floodplain, and abut river banks that are severely eroding, raising concerns for a potential breach.

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Photo by Rashawerakh, taken 2008.  Via Flickr Commons

Vonnegut’s Letter to the Future

After citing examples of how Nature works to keep the planet in balance, Vonnegut  puts forth a series of simple steps we need to take to survive as a species.  What he writes rings as true today as it did in 1988.

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Gabions and geotextile fabric installed to prevent erosion of the river banks and impoundment structures immediately adjacent to the river are failing, and toxic ash is leaching into the river. Photo by Pam Richart, Eco-Justice Collaborative.  April  2106.

Dynegy awaits OK to stabilize river bank near coal ash ponds

Lan and Pam Richart, of Champaign-based Eco-Justice Collaborative, took this picture of bank erosion along the Middle Fork River. Up and over the eroding bank are ash ponds on Dynegy’s former power plant site, which is upstream from Kickapoo State Park. The Richarts and other concerned citizens believe the coal ash in the ponds is contaminating the river, but Dynegy officials argue that the ash ponds are structurally stable.

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Dynegy Vermilion Coal Ash Ponds

Groups Seek Stronger Safeguards

The Vermilion Middle Fork, one of the country’s “National Scenic RIvers”, is a swift-flowing river winding through lush forests, rolling prairie and craggy cliffs in central Illinois. But the river’s banks butt up against three massive pits filled with toxic coal ash produced over five decades by the Vermilion coal-fired power plant, which closed in 2011 and is still owned by the power company Dynegy.

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Coal Miner statue dreamstimr

Old King Coal – WBEZ 91.5 Chicago HEAT OF THE MOMENT

“This isn’t coal country. Not anymore. The coal still comes out of the ground, but without many workers.”

Coal mining is a changing industry, and more and more it’s leaving its workers behind. This story illustrates that point, but also serves as a reminder that while the coal industry phases out, we need to be compassionate and cooperative with the communities that will be impacted by it’s absence.

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