August 26, 2012
Concerns continue to grow over the proposed Sunrise “Bulldog” coal mine in Vermilion County.
Water is among the top concerns: where the water will come from to wash the coal, and what will happen to the polluted water once it’s used in the mine. As part of the permit process to operate a mine, coal mining companies apply for permits to “discharge” or pollute the wastewater back into streams. This wastewater is often high in sediments and pollutants such as sulfates, chlorides, arsenic, lead, mercury and selenium. Coal companies often say that they will operate fully within all federal and state pollution regulations, but here in Illinois they often don’t, and regulators often do nothing to stop them. In the last three years, nearly one-third of Illinois coal mines have been out of compliance with their water discharge permit for one year or more.
Where the water will come from is another concern. The drought this summer reminds us that water can be scarce. Sunrise coal’s proposal asks for 2,000-4,000 gallons per day of treated water, and 325,000 gallons minimum per day of untreated water at the beginning, to increase to at least 540,000 gallons per day with expansion. These totals dwarf the amount used by entire villages; for example, the nearby village of Oakwood only uses 130,000 gallons per day. The mine proposes to buy water from the Village of Homer, which would draw the water from the nearby Salt Fork River or from groundwater. Will there be enough clean water for everyone’s needs? Homer has authorized further study of selling the water to the mine.
Also of concern is the company’s promise of 300 jobs. There is no guarantee that the 300 jobs will go to local people; they might go to already-trained mine workers from other areas. In fact, in this April 4th article in The Leader, Sunrise already said that some of those jobs will be transfers from the company’s Carlisle, Indiana mines.
Finally, area residents are concerned that Sunrise coal has not been wholly truthful throughout the process of trying to open the mine. Prairie Rivers Network obtained this email from Sunrise representative Jaworowski to Homer Mayor David Lucas in April 2012, referring to the above April 4th article in The Leader. The email asks Mayor Lucas to not respond to any inquires from the press and to refer them all to her. Prairie Rivers Network detailed more deceptions by Sunrise Coal in a June 2012 press release (pdf) authored by Charles Goodall, local farmer in Vermilion County.
Midwest Energy News and Grist recently ran articles on the problems with the proposed Bulldog coal mine. To find out more, see the video of our questions for Sunrise Coal. The video was made by Prairie Rivers Network, Stand Up to Coal, Salt Fork Friends, and Salt Fork River Runners.
Sign the petition by Stand Up to Coal to voice your opposition to the proposed mine!The News-Gazette ran a story (pdf) about one of the informational meetings about the mine, held in Urbana. This post was updated on August 28, 2012 with that press coverage. Visit www.standuptocoal.org for future meetings and ways you can get involved.
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