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Hurricane Florence Leaves Behind a Wake of Disaster
Duke Energy’s recent coal ash spills into Sutton Lake and the Cape Fear River and the flooding of ash dumps at Duke’s H.F. Lee Power Plant and South Carolina’s Granger Power Plant after Hurricane Florence underscore the consequences of major storm events on coal ash impoundments left near rivers and lakes. These events call out the folly of Vistra’s claim that it can permanently leave its toxic ash in the floodplain of the Middle Fork without risk to the river and residents of Vermilion County.

Duke Energy’s L.V. Sutton Power Plant contaminates Cape Fear River. Photo Courtesy of Waterkeeper Alliance

But Here’s Some Good News for the Middle Fork
But the fight to require Vistra to move its coal ash is not over, and there is good news!  Last week, during a call with a representative of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (U.S. ACE), Eco-Justice Collaborative learned that the Army Corps had just decided to process Vistra’s Permit Application for it’s massive riverbank armoring project as an Individual Permit under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act.  This decision came after formal objections by both Eco-Justice Collaborative(EJC) and Prairie Rivers Network, and EJC’s letter writing campaign that generated over 200 letters in just one week, telling the US ACE to follow its rules.  Thanks to all who took time to send those letters. They made a difference!  

With this new ruling, the U.S. ACE will now require Vistra to evaluate alternatives to its proposed riverbank armoring to reduce impact to the river and recreation. The Corps will also conduct a public interest review and provide opportunity for public comment.  Similarly, the Illinois EPA, Bureau of Water, will be processing Dynegy’s permit application as the more rigorous Individual Permit under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act. They are conducting an anti-degradation assessment that will look at impacts to water quality; aquatic biota; and recreation; and will be holding a public hearing.

Attend an Information / Organizing Meeting!
The next few months are critical to decisions that will be made by agencies, including the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; Illinois Department of Natural Resources; Illinois Environmental Protection Agency; and the National Park Service.  Therefore, EjC is hosting meetings in October to provide updates on the status of the proposal to close the ash pits, and to identify opportunities to call for a solution that permanently protects the river.  We hope you will make attending one of these two meetings a priority:

October 1, 2018
6:30 pm to 8:00 pm
Champaign Public Library
200 W Green St, Champaign

October 11, 2018
6:00 pm to 7:30 pm
Danville Public Library
319 N Vermilion St, Danville

Please share this flier with friends and colleagues, and help us spread the word about these meetings. If you live outside the area, watch for information in the next month on how you can provide meaningful input to public processes initiated by agencies. 

Remember, Vistra now is completing its required studies, and remains hopeful that it can obtain the required agency approvals to move forward with a plan that will leave the ash permanently in the floodplain. Your ongoing participation in the campaign to protect the Middle Fork is key to coal ash removal. That is the only solution that will permanently prevent leaching of dangerous coal ash chemicals into the river and forever eliminate the threat of a coal ash spill.

Pam and Lan, Co-Directors
Eco-Justice Collaborative

P.S.  If you haven’t yet taken time to ask the gubernatorial candidates to take a public position on how they would protect the Middle Fork from coal ash pollution, please do so here.  Thank you!

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