Is the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Enabling Vistra+Dynegy’s Massive Riverbank Project?
As previously reported, Vistra+Dynegy, the Texas-based company and owner of the now-closed power plant north of Kickapoo State Park, submitted a Section 404/401 Joint Permit Application this past July. Approval by regulatory agencies is required before they can install planned riverbank armoring along its two oldest coal ash pits located in the floodplain of the Middle Fork of the Vermilion, Illinois’ National Scenic River. These pits are unlined and leaking coal ash chemicals into the groundwater and surface water. The river is moving west towards the pits, and has ripped off previously installed riverbank protection and severely eroded the riverbanks, bringing the river precariously close to the two coal ash impoundments.
Dynegy’s riverbank proposal is massive:
- Over 22,000 cubic yards of boulders and riprap are proposed along banks and in the river next to the two oldest ash pits for a distance of 1900 feet. . A cubic yard is slightly larger than a typical kitchen stove.
- Work at some locations would extend over 40 feet into the river, and the riverbed would be excavated up to eight feet down.
- The project could take six to eight months to complete and would need to take place during prime recreation months, when water levels are low.
A project of this scope and magnitude warrants the more rigorous review offered by an Individual Section 404 Permit. Yet, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (U.S. ACOE) is waiving its own requirements for an Individual Permit so that Vistra+Dynegy’s permit can be processed as a Nationwide Permit 13. This less rigorous permit (and review) is intended for projects less than 500 feet in length that have minimal impact on adjacent waterways. It’s time to tell the U.S. ACOE to follow its rules.
Dynegy’s proposal will not stop ongoing pollution, and the extent of fill and excavation most certainly will negatively affect the river and the threatened and endangered aquatic species that inhabit it. Yet, as currently proposed, Vistra+Dynegy will now be able to obtain U.S. ACOE approval of their project without:
- An analysis of alternatives that would have less impact on the river.
- Public interest review.
- Public comment or a public hearing.
Tell the U.S. Army Corps You Want the
More Rigorous Review and Analysis!
We think waiving the Individual Permit requirement is a mistake and contrary to the intent of the permit program.
Earlier this month, Eco-Justice Collaborative formally objected to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ decision to waive the Individual Permit requirement. Will you take a moment to do the same? Click here to send a letter to Michael Ricketts, Chief, Regulatory Functions Branch, Louisville District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.