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.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is seeking comment on a proposal by Dynegy Midwest, LLC to install a rock wall to prevent millions of gallons of coal ash from polluting the Middle Fork River in Vermilion County.
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 catastrophic failure of the riverbank could overwhelm the Middle Fork with more than 666 million gallons of toxic coal ash for many miles downstream. The spill would impact the environment, human health, and the economy of the region.
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.
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.
Damage from coal ash disposal sites has become a growing concern in recent years after several spectacular disasters. Here's what we know about the damage to human health and the environment from large coal ash spills, and the costs of cleanup, from two disasters in the past decade.
Coal ash isn't regulated in the U.S. as a hazardous waste. The Obama EPA set rules which the Trump EPA reversed. Now it's up to the courts, and the states, to resolve the confusion and prevent future coal ash disasters.