August 2, 2012
In a backroom deal, Prairie State Generating Company and the Washington County Board met behind closed doors and emerged with an amendment to an ordinance that grants the company permission to build a 720-acre coal ash landfill near Marissa, IL. This is a clear reversal of the coal company’s statement to the Washington County Board in 2005 that “all waste products will be disposed of outside Washington County in disposal sites properly permitted by the state of Illinois.”
Concerned Washington County residents have speculated that the county board was bullied into signing the deal with Prairie State under threat of a lawsuit from the company, but nobody from either side will say what the grounds of the lawsuit might have been.
Coal ash contains toxic materials such as heavy metals and arsenic, and dry landfills of this type have been known to contaminate neighboring lands and water. People up to a mile away from coal ash landfills report coal dust problems and respiratory irritation. And even if coal ash landfills are lined, all liners fail eventually: “It’s not a matter of if they’ll fail. It’s a matter of when,” says Traci Barkley, Water Resources Scientist at Prairie Rivers Network.
Prairie Rivers Network is working with the American Bottom Conservancy and the Illinois chapter of the Sierra Club to stop this landfill. This story was covered in the Midwest Energy News (PDF), published on July 25, 2012. You can also find out more about problems with coal mining and pollution on our coal page and coal posts.
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