IEPA ‘Listening Session’ On Coal Ash Rules Tuesday In Danville

middle fork

Seepage from coal ash entering the Middle Fork River.

Jack Brighton/Illinois Public Media

Two sessions on Tuesday at Danville Area Community College will give local residents the chance to tell the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency what they want from new rules regulating coal ash, a toxic substance produced by coal-fired power plants.

Andrew Rehn, a water resources engineer with the Champaign-based environmental group Prairie Rivers Network, says the listening sessions are a chance to tell state environmental officials what the new coal ash regulations should do.

“So let the Illinois EPA know about who is paying attention to this issue, who lives near these sites, or visits those sites, like the Middle Fork,” said Rehn. “So many people use that river.”

The Middle Fork of the Vermilion River near Danville, runs past coal ash storage ponds at the old Vermilion Power Station, now owned by Vistra. Concern about leakage at the site helped spur passage of Illinois’ new Coal Ash Pollution Prevention Act.

The new law calls for new regulations directing how coal ash storage facilities are to be built, operated and closed. It requires that coal ash surface impoundments, often called coal ash ponds, must be monitored for groundwater contamination, and that action must be taken to keep them in compliance with environmental regulations.

Rehn says the listening sessions are not like formal public hearings that would be held after proposed rules are drafted. Instead, he says the state EPA is holding the sessions to hear from the public first.

“Illinois EPA is coming to hear from the public about their concerns related to coal ash, so that when they make this draft rule, it’ll be educated by that public input,” said Rehn. “And then that draft rule that they eventually make will go to Public Notice and perhaps towards a more traditional hearing.”

The listening sessions run Tuesday from 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 PM at the Bremer Auditorium at Danville Area Community College, 2000 E. Main St., Danville.

The IEPA has already held listening sessions in Peoria and Granite City, which are also regions where power plant sites storing coal ash have raised concerns. Regn, who attended listening sessions in both cities, says they were well-attended.

Future IEPA listening sessions are scheduled for Mount Vernon on September 26, Joliet on October 8 and Waukegan on October 9. In addition, an online listening session webinar will be held on September 24.

Story source: WILL