Report shows toxic contamination at coal ash sites throughout Illinois

A new report published by several state environmental groups shows severe pollution of groundwater at nearly every known coal ash storage site in Illinois.
Coal industry data on coal ash contamination was made public for the first time this year under federal coal ash rules.
“The only thing separating those ash dumps from the rivers and lakes we treasure is a thin embankment of earth.” Groundwater tests required by federal coal ash rules Federal coal ash rules require groundwater testing at active sites still accepting waste.
There are more than 1,000 coal ash sites in the U.S., and at least 83 sites in Illinois.
“What this report shows is the need for Illinois to step up and do something about coal ash,” Rehn said, “especially as we approach an era in which these power plants are closing.” Coal ash regulation stalled in Illinois Federal coal ash rules set standards for active sites.
But environmental groups say Illinois has let power companies off the hook, allowing them to close leaking coal ash sites by merely capping the ponds while the ash continues to pollute water resources.
Many coal ash ponds have already been closed.
Closure of ash ponds means the power company either removes the ash, or caps the ponds and leaves them in place.
“For the vast majority of these ash dumps, the owners have proposed to close them in place, leaving them sitting in or near groundwater.” The environmental groups want a requirement for removing ash from all sites contaminating groundwater.
But the agency said it is now “committed to public notice and public hearings for actions related to the Vermilion Power Station.” The environmental groups say they want more than just an airing of public concerns.

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