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Environmental Groups Call For Controls For Coal Ash

Courtesy of Wiki Commons

  There are 90 aging coal-ash pits in Illinois — piles of slag left behind when coal is burned for energy. Now coal-ash residue is starting to show up in the water supply. Environmental groups are asking for tougher state regulations.

The Sierra Club of Illinois and the Prairie Rivers Network are among a number of environmental groups lobbying the state to hold energy suppliers accountable for coal-ash pollution.

Urbana resident Eileen Borgia says she sees an orangey liquid trickling out of pipes when kayaking down the Middle Fork River, west of Danville. She says it's from a nearby power plant, now closed, and its coal-ash pit.

"Well, it's very disconcerting to people and many people feel like they're not being heard," she said. "That they're a rural community and nobody cares about this particular issue of this orange effluent that is visible there."

Borgia, who's with Prairie Rivers, says power companies ought to take financial responsibility for both water pollution from coal ash pits and cleaning up the areas the pits occupy.

Activists say coal-ash exposure in the water can lead to contamination by heavy metals such as mercury, lead, and arsenic.

The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and Pollution Control Board held hearings on the matter this week in Springfield. They'll meet later this spring in Chicago.

Hannah covers state government and politics for Capitol News Illinois. She's been dedicated to the statehouse beat since interning at NPR Illinois in 2014, with subsequent stops at WILL-AM/FM, Law360, Capitol Fax and The Daily Line before returning to NPR Illinois in 2020 and moving on to CNI in 2023.
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