coal ash contamination
Credit: Waterkeeper Alliance Inc./Flickr

Illinois faces challenges in addressing coal ash contamination

Despite Illinois passing a law five years ago to manage coal ash contamination, progress has stalled, leaving environmental advocates concerned.

Juanpablo Ramirez-Franco reports for Grist.


In short:

  • In 2019, Illinois passed a law to regulate coal ash and required plant operators to submit plans to clean up or shut down.
  • Despite finalized rules, permits for the coal ash pits in Waukegan have yet to be approved, delaying remediation.
  • Federal rules have intensified scrutiny of coal ash, aiming to reduce its environmental impact and safeguard communities.

Key quote:

“When it comes to the implementation of these rules, it’s 2024 and we don’t have permits yet. And I don’t think anyone was expecting that.”

— Celeste Flores, co-chair of Clean Power Lake County

Why this matters:

Coal ash contains hazardous substances that can leach into groundwater, posing serious health risks. The prolonged delay in issuing permits for cleanup leaves communities exposed to potential pollution, heightening the urgency for regulatory action. Read more: Former coal plant near Pittsburgh is poisoning groundwater.

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