Local residents concerned with coal-ash contamination along the Middle Fork River took their concerns to Springfield this week. They joined other environmental groups in urging Illinois to enforce stricter regulations in light of newly released data showing unsafe concentrations of coal-ash pollutants in groundwater at 22 sites across the state.
The contingent included residents from Champaign and Vermilion counties who have been pushing for the removal of coal ash at the former Vermilion Power Station along the Middle Fork River upstream from Kickapoo State Recreation Area. Local State Senator Scott Bennett is pushing for more action by the state
Vistra Energy, which owns the property, has been working with the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency on a plan to permanently close the site and wants to leave the ash in place next to the river by putting an earthen layer over the pits. But river advocates argue that would not stop contaminants such as boron, lead and arsenic from leaching from the pits into the river. They want federal and state agencies to allow a public hearing for input the plan.