Edwards Power Plant Coal Ash Pond and Site Issues Session Presentation Held October 13th
Representatives for Illinois Power Resources Generating, LLC, a Vistra Energy LLC subsidiary, held a public presentation about the Edwards coal plant ash pond at the Pere Marquette Hotel, Peoria, October 13th at 7 p.m. Notice about this session appeared in an ad in the Peoria Journal Star on Thursday, October 7th. The session was one of the requirements in a legal settlement over groundwater contamination at Edwards and several other downstate coal plants in the case Sierra Club v. Illinois Power Generating Company, et al, Illinois Pollution Control Board case PCB 2019-078. The meeting was moderated by a Vistra staff member from Texas. A panel of three specialists with the company discussed aspects of their work regarding the Edwards coal ash pond, including site investigations ongoing to meet existing state regulations for ash pond closures; data collection and monitoring well results; what could be a surface impoundment closure timeline; and additional measures the company will be taking to evaluate the site for closure.
Public comments included statements on the need for the coal ash to be removed from the river bottomland and safe handling and placement of the ash in an approved and monitored landfill. Some commentors stated doubts about the history of company compliance with regulations. There were questions on the company commitment to local concerns, including coal plant impacts of decades of polluted air impacting the south side of Peoria and minority neighborhoods. Thirty-six people were in the audience area, including the Chairman and members of the Peoria Park Board, the President of Illinois People’s Action Rev. Tony Pierce, City Council member Denise Jackson, Peoria League of Women Voters, and a diversity of faith-based, environmental, and justice group members.
Coal ash is the waste material left after coal is burned. It contains arsenic, boron, mercury and other contaminants, many of them toxic to people, fish and wildlife. When coal ash comes into contact with water, these hazardous materials leach out of the waste and can pollute both surface water and groundwater. Several of the substances can cause cancer, damage the nervous system and other organs, or cause other major health issues. Throughout its 52 years of operations, the Edwards plant has dumped large amounts of coal ash close to the Illinois River and coal ash has been used for fill and other site projects including the access road embankment. Some sources indicate the bottom ten feet of the existing ash pond is in contact with groundwater. The coal ash pond is an 89-acre, 32-foot deep incised pond with embankment and is located between the plant and access road off of Illinois Route 24 south of Bartonville. The area around the plant has been declared unusable for potable, drinkable water due to existing pollution according to the Illinois EPA permit for plant discharges. More meetings will be held in the future regarding the closure of the Edwards power plant at the end of December, 2022.
J B, Observer
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