Each year coal-fired power plants and industries in Illinois produce over 4.4 million tons of coal ash. Coal ash is the waste that is generated by coal combustion; waste that contains mercury, arsenic, chromium, cadmium and other heavy metals that can cause cancer and brain damage in humans. Despite its toxicity there are few safeguards in place for the safe handling and disposal of coal ash. Illinois is home to more than 90 disposal sites, many unlined and leaking into surface and groundwater supplies.
Federal rules taking effect this fall are self implementing by industry; do not meet Illinois groundwater standards; and do not address the many coal ash pits left behind by shuttered power plants.
Until recently, Illinois was moving forward with much stronger rules that would help regulate the disposal of coal ash, but the Illinois EPA has asked the Illinois Pollution Control Board to indefinitely stay its rule-making proceedings, concerned over industry led legal challenges to the federal rule. Resolving these challenges could take months, or even years. In the meantime, some of Illinois’ most severe contamination problems will go unaddressed and the disposal of millions of tons of new coal ash will go unregulated. We need effective oversight in place now.
The Illinois Pollution Control Board is meeting this coming Thursday, September 17. Take a moment to tell the Illinois Pollution Control Board to move forward with its rule-making proceedings on coal ash. Then share withe friends, family and colleagues.