Is Coal Ash Causing Problems In Springfield?

Jun 25, 2015

Local conservationists have long been concerned with various issues surrounding the utility City, Water, Light, And Power and the effect it has on Lake Springfield and the environment. Illinois is one of the most coal-producing states, but even the Springfield mayor is pushing for changes.

Many say it is time to seriously look at alternative sources of energy, like wind and solar, for the majority of the city's needs.

Residents rely on Lake Springfield not only for energy, but as its source of drinking water. For decades there has been talk about creating a second lake in the city - one that can be used as another water source as well as a recreational area. As of now, coal ash, a byproduct at the plant, is mixed with water and put in unlined ponds. Many worry that the unlined ponds allow contaminated water to seep into the lake.  Studies have found levels of toxins in the water, including arsenic and lead, exceed what is deemed safe. (CWLP says it is following regulations and standards set by the EPA.) The issue of coal ash and what to do with it is not unique to Springfield. It is thought to contain contaminates that cause disease and harm wildlife.

In Illinois, Coal Ash Stories, a collection of short documentaries, is being screened in several cities. The Springfield showing is on Tuesday, June 30th at Lincoln Library (326 S. 7th St.) at 6:30.

I spoke with Sierra Club members Al Piper and Andy Knott about their concerns regarding CWLP and coal ash, here is that interview: 

I also spoke with Mayor Jim Langfelder to get his reaction and vision for the future of energy in Springfield: