Fly Ash Accident at CWLP Dallman Coal Plant
Around 4 PM in the afternoon, the same day that the Illinois Senate passed a climate and equitable jobs bill that would phase out the Dallman coal plant in Springfield, fly ash from that plant rushed into the air.
The release was caused when a valve maintenance operation failed on a silo from the Dallman power plant. In a statement Wednesday, CWLP said the accident happened when a maintenance worker removed a valve where coal ash is stored to clear a blockage. That, according to plant operators, should never have happened.
Photos courtesy of Elizabeth Scrafford. Sierra Club
Elizabeth Scrafford, who works for the Sierra Club as an organizing manger, lives in Springfield. She was able to captured these images of the fly ash release on her mobile phone. Elizabeth said:
“As a resident of Springfield who lives a few miles from the Dallman coal plant, this incident today is just another reminder of why we need to move beyond coal as soon as possible. As legislative leaders actively negotiate the fate of these coal plants, those of us living near them are reminded every day that there is no safe way to burn coal.”
Fly ash particles include heavy metals like mercury and arsenic. They can become lodged in the deepest part of your lungs, where they trigger asthma, inflammation and immunological reactions. Studies link these particulates to the four leading causes of death in the U.S.: heart disease, cancer, respiratory diseases and stroke.
Thankfully, the cloud release was stopped after 5 pm when the Springfield Fire Department and CWLP personnel used water to contain the ash. But this accident underscores the urgency of moving beyond coal.
What’s Next for this Plant
Since the accident, the Illinois House of Representatives negotiated an amendment to the bill the Senate passed on August 31, recognizing that Prairie State and Dallman should not be allowed to pollute unabated until 2045 - nearly two and one-half decades from now. The amendment requires these two plants to achieve a 45 percent reduction in their emissions by 2035, or shut down.
This bill, now called the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act will be heard, along with the House amendment, will be heard, debated, and voted by the House of Representatives on Thursday, September 9. The bill then will move to the Senate for a concurrence vote before heading to Governor Pritzker’s desk. The Governor has indicated he will sign a bill that includes these interim targets.