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It's OUR River.  Let's Protect It!
Write a Letter to Governor Pritzker

Dynegy Midwest Generation has applied to the Illinois EPA for Section 401 Water Quality Certification for impacts associated with a massive riverbank stabilization project on the Middle Fork of the Vermilion River. If approved:

  • Over 22,000 cubic yards of rip-rap and other fill would be placed along 2,000 linear feet of the river.
  • Fill would extend over 30 feet into the river channel.
  • Construction would require digging up to 8 feet into the riverbed.
  • Soils contaminated with coal ash chemicals would be excavated, potentially sending pollutants downstream.
  • The river would either be closed to paddlers during construction or paddlers would be required to portage over 1/3 mile around the construction site.
  • The project could be built BEFORE the Illinois EPA decides whether Dynegy can cap its unlined, leaking coal ash pits, and leave them permanently in the floodplain of the state's only National Scenic River.

Attend the March Public Hearing
This could be the only hearing held related to Dynegy's planned cap, armor, and leave proposal.  The Illinois EPA who has tentatively approved Dynegy's stabilization project, needs to hear from you!

Tuesday, March 26, 2019, 6pm
Danville Area Community College (Gymnasium)
2000 East Main Street, Danville

Click here for more information on the hearing and pre-hearing briefing opportunities.

Impacts from the Stabilization Project on the River
Dynegy's project will harm the river and is intended to allow the coal ash to be permanently left in place.  Coal ash chemicals are leaching through riverbanks into groundwater and the river. Coal ash can contain heavy metals, such as arsenic; mercury; cadmium; chromium; selenium; aluminum; antimony; barium; beryllium; boron; copper; lead; manganese; molybdenum; nickel; vanadium; and zinc. These have been shown to cause birth defects, cancer, and neurological damage in humans - and can harm and kill wildlife, especially fish.

This massive project will forever leave a visual scar on the otherwise natural river corridor; degrade water quality; and have devastating economic consequences for the operator of the canoe and kayak livery in Kickapoo State Park.

We are hoping the Pritzker Administration will agree that the only way to protect the river and Vermilion County long-term is to move the coal ash out of the floodplain of the Middle Fork.  The toxic material should be placed in a lined landfill, far from the river, and monitored.

Write a Letter to Governor Pritzker and IEPA Director John Kim
You can help make the case for moving the coal ash by writing a letter to Governor Pritzker and Acting Illinois EPA Director John Kim. Feel free to draw upon the talking points posted in the right column, and click here to access our concerns regarding the impacts of Dynegy's planned riverbank armoring project.

Public Comment Form

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Sample Talking Points
Click for more detailed talking points for the March 26 hearing
Click here for information about the March hearing
Click here for analysis of Dynegy's riverbank stabilization project

  • The Middle Fork of the Vermilion is one of the most vibrant and ecologically-diverse in the Midwest, and has a regional recreational draw that boosts local economies. It is also Illinois' National Scenic River.
  • Last April, the national river conservation group American Rivers listed the Middle Fork as one of America’s Most Endangered Rivers 2018©,  because of the coal ash threat.  Over 3.3 million cubic yards of toxic ash is stored in unlined, leaking pits in this river's floodplain.  That's enough ash to fill Chicago's Willis (Sears) Tower nearly two times!

Gabions installed to protect riverbanks next to thel ash pits have bee ripped away by the force of the river, exposing views of coal ash contaminants seeping into the river. Photo by Pam Richart, Eco-Justice Collaborative.

  • But Dynegy wants to cap its pits, build a 1/3-mile long wall consisting of rip-rap (jagged rock) and other fill to protect the toxic waste, and permanently leave it in the river's floodplain.  But coal ash contaminants are leaching through the ash pits into the groundwater and river. Capping the coal ash pits won't stop this pollution, since they are unlined.  Governor Pritzker, the only way to stop the pollution is to tell Dynegy to move its toxic waste.
  • The company's massive riverbank project will forever leave a visual scar on the otherwise natural river corridor; degrade water quality; and have devastating economic consequences for the operator of the canoe and kayak livery in Kickapoo State Park:
    • The rock and other fill would extend 30 feet into the river.  Excavation of riverbanks the riverbed (up to a depth of 8 feet) would send contaminated soils downstream, with potential impacts to state-endangered mussels and host fish.
    • Heavy equipment would operate directly in the river, and the construction zone would extend up to 70 feet into the channel. This would inhibit or prevent recreational use of the river for significant periods of time. Construction would take place when water levels are low, which generally occurs during prime recreational months.
  • The Middle Fork is a meandering river that is moving west toward the coal ash pits. At one time, Illinois Power, who built the coal plant, considered moving the river channel to protect its ash pits. Eventually the river will reclaim its floodplain, even with riverbank stabilization.  No stabilization lasts forever.  The gabions put in place 30 years ago have been ripped off the river's banks and lie in the river's channel or moved downstream during flood events.  The only way to protect the river from a potential coal ash spill is to move the ash far from the river.
  • We know that the riverbanks need stabilization now, to protect them from frequent storm events.  But the Illinois EPA promised us an INTERIM solution, while agencies move through their approval processes for a closure plan.  There are solutions readily available that would allow riverbank stabilization to take place without harm to the river and allow removal without placing equipment in the Middle Fork.  THIS is the project that we should be reviewing.  Why isn't the type of stabilization proposed tied directly to decisions related to ash removal?
  • The recent merger of Dynegy and Vistra, two Texas-based power producers, has created a company that now has - according to their own reporting - a net worth of $20 billion. Shouldn’t the utility be held responsible for cleaning up its mess?
  • Why should Vermilion County residents be left with a legacy of toxic coal ash, if a “cap, armor, and leave” solution is approved? How does Vermilion County or Danville benefit if Dynegy is allowed to leave 3.3 million cubic yards of toxic coal ash in the floodplain of Illinois' only National Scenic River?  Who will pay for monitoring, maintenance, and repair of the pits after Dynegy leaves or potentially goes bankrupt? Who will pay for cleanup, in the event of a catastrophic spill?
  • The Middle Fork is our only National Scenic River. Governor Pritzker, we want you to help us protect it. Tell Dynegy to move its ash!
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