The Middle Fork of the Vermilion River is located in East-Central Illinois. It is the state’s only National Scenic River, and one of the most biologically-diverse in the Midwest. The river and surrounding 10,000 acres of public open space are a recreational draw from all parts of the state, and nearby Indiana. Vermilion County and the City of Danville plan to capitalize on the economic potential of the river, by drawing additional tourist trade.
But the Middle Fork was designated one of America’s most endangered in 2018. This is because 3.3 million cubic yards of coal ash sit in three, unlined pits in the river’s floodplain. Illinois Power and its successors operated the Vermilion Power coal-fired power plant from 1956 until Dynegy closed it in 2011. Coal ash is the waste product of burning coal, and toxic coal ash chemicals (such as arsenic, boron, chromium, nickel and lead) are actively seeking into the groundwater and surface water, and the meandering Middle Fork is eroding both riverbanks next to the two oldest ash pits, along with the protective armoring installed in the 1980s to stop erosion.
Coal Ash is seeping into the Middle Fork of the Vermilion River. Eco-Justice Collaborative warns of a potential coal ash disaster. Aired: 8/23/18 Reporter: Doug Wolfe WAND TV – NBC
The owner, Vistra+Dynegy, is seeking agency approval to once again armor banks as part of its plan to close all three ash pits. Eco-Justice Collaborative is advocating ash removal and relocation as the only solution to protect the river; the local economy; and the taxpayer from future liabilities associated with ongoing pollution; the threat of a spill; and the costs of monitoring, maintaining, and repairing coal ash impoundments and riverbank armoring in perpetuity.
We Are Asking for Your Support
Over the past two years EJC’s work to protect the Middle Fork has raised awareness of the coal ash threat and mobilized residents and local officials to work for ash relocation. But we need your financial support as we enter the last phase of this work. Dynegy hopes to have permits for riverbank stabilization and its closure plan approved by the end of 2018.
We continue to be in contact with the Governor’s Office, the Illinois EPA, the National Park Service, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to do what we can to ensure that decisions they make take into account the long-term health of the river and preserve the recreational and economic benefits the National Scenic River. This work includes ongoing mobilizing state and local officials, area residents, and the media, and preparing technical responses to agencies regarding plans and proposals by Vistra+Dynegy. Our recent People’s Hearing, Action Alert to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and WAND TV feature story are examples of that work.
Your contribution of $5, $10 or $25 will help us continue the fight
And ensure the permanent protection of this National Scenic River