The largest Illinois hazardous waste site you have never heard about

The largest Illinois hazardous waste site you have never heard about

(KMOV.com) — A local activist is calling an area “the largest hazardous waste site” you have never heard of before.

The site the activist is referring to is a 400 acre plot near Albers, Illinois that used to be owned by Exxon-Mobil Coal.  Looking at the site today, you would never know that the site used to be a hazardous waste dump.  A satellite image from several years ago shows what is now covered by dirt: a coal-waste slurry from the now closed Monterrey Mine.

Don Langenhorst lives less than a mile away from the site and he wants the site cleaned up.  He also fears the waste led to his kidney problems.  Langenhorst said he drank the water for years without any indication he was possibly hurting his health.

According to reports, the water leaking out of the site includes iron, sulfides and chlorides.  It is supposed to be pumped in to the Kaskaskia river, but is already infiltrated the water aquifer underneath.  That infiltration has seriously deteriorated the water quality in two nearby towns.

Exxon has already paid $1 million to pump in clean water to the people who live nearby.  The residents around the site say they are not after money.  They just want the site cleaned up.  Under the mining reclamation act, the site is technically not considered hazardous waste.  Area residents beg to differ.

Attorney Penni Livingston hopes the Illinois Supreme Court sees the flaw in the law.  “It’s a slurried material and the reclamation act says you may not have anything that’s a permanent impoundment of clean water, so maybe it’s not hazardous waste, but it is not clean water either,” Livingston stated.

Livingston also said she is concerned about water from that aquifer now being pumped into the nearby Kaskaskia River, which may be news to many who boat there.

Exxon-Mobil Coal sold that site to another company in 2009.  The Illinois Supreme Court will hear the case in October.

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