Andrew Rehn of the Prairie Rivers Network presents the report 'Cap and Run: Toxic Coal Ash Left Behind by Big Polluters Threatens Illinois Water' at a news conference at the Illinois state capitol building in Springfield

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.

The report states that groundwater tests show unsafe levels of toxic chemicals and heavy metals at 22 of 24 Illinois coal-fired power plants. The tests were done by the companies that own the sites, collated by the environmental groups, and released this week.

High-Grade Cropland Gives Way To Urban Growth In Iowa – At Least Where There’s Growth

Urban expansion, at least in the few areas where Iowa cities are growing, is eating up some of the state’s best farmland. In Ankeny, a central Iowa suburb of Des Moines that a May U.S. Census Bureau report ranked as the nation’s fourth fastest-growing large city from July 2016 to July 2017, much of the land being developed for housing is high quality soil for raising crops, an Iowa State University agronomy department survey shows.

A diagram of the Vermilion Power Station coal ash ponds and the Middle Fork River

The costs of closing a coal ash waste site
Who pays and for how long?

At Dynegy's coal ash ponds at the Vermilion Power Station, toxic pollution is already impacting groundwater and the Middle Fork River. The company is preparing several options for completely closing the site, including removing the coal ash, or simply capping the ponds and leaving the coal ash in place. Both options have costs; the question is who pays how much, and when.

A large pile of coal waste

The coal ash problem
What is coal ash, and why is it a problem?

In 2016 U.S. coal plants produced 107 million tons of coal ash. About 60 million tons were reused for industrial products like cement and construction materials, leaving 47 million tons left over as waste. That waste contains toxic chemicals and heavy metals dangerous to human health and the environment. There are more than a thousand coal ash sites across the U.S., and many of them are polluting groundwater, rivers and lakes.