Protect the Middle Fork from Coal Ash Pollution
Why the Middle Fork?
In 1956 Illinois Power constructed a coal-fired power plant along the banks of the Middle Fork of the Vermilion River in east-central Illinois. The plant was acquired in 2005 by Dynegy.
Over a 55-year period, Illinois Power and its successor Dynegy constructed and operated three separate coal ash disposal pits, depositing over three million cubic yards of coal ash waste. Coal ash is the byproduct that is left over after coal is burned for electricity. It is full of heavy metals like mercury, arsenic, selenium, chromium and cadmium, which can cause cancer and brain damage in humans and are harmful to fish and wildlife.
Studies conducted by the Illinois EPA show that:
- Two of the pits are unlined and are leaking.
- All three lie within the floodplain of the river with floodwaters and high water tables threatening their foundations and structural integrity.
Toxicological studies conducted in 2014 by scientists at the Illinois Natural History Survey detected the presence of coal-ash related heavy metals in downstream invertebrates:
- There are 20 private wells within one mile of the ash impoundments that could be impacted.
- The Middle Fork is Illinois’ only designated National Scenic River and is used by thousands of visitors for fishing, canoeing and tubing each year.
Purpose of the Campaign
In 2011 Dynegy Vermilion ceased operation. The industry currently is seeking approval from the Illinois IEPA for a closure plan that would merely cap the ash pits, leaving them in place in the floodplain of the Middle Fork of the Vermilion River..
Now is the time for complete clean up of this toxic waste! This can be accomplished through:
- Removal of toxic coal ash waste from the floodplain of the Middle Fork of the Vermilion River where it intersects with groundwater; and
- Relocation of this waste to an upland area on its property in a properly designed and monitored facility that will ensure the long-term safety of surrounding property and people.
EJC believes that placing a spotlight on Dynegy’s Vermilion plant is way to address this local issue, and simultaneously call attention to the need for strong Illinois rules on coal ash.
How to Get Involved
We need people with a variety of skills to be successful. If you are interested in volunteering your time, please email Lan or call him at 773,556,3417. This campaign can not only clean up the coal ash along the Middle Fork of the Vermilion River, but also:
- Increase Dynegy’s profile of accountability for on-going violations.
- Use Dynegy Middle Fork as example of state-wide problems.
- Provide public support for strong IEPA rules (in process).