Dynegy Withdraws its Bank Stabilization Plan
But ... The Fight to Protect the Middle Fork Isn’t Over!
Campaign to Protect the RIver Has Major Impact
If you testified at the March 26, Public Hearing hosted by the Illinois EPA to solicit public comments on Dynegy’s 2,000-foot long riverbank project - or submitted a written statement during the public comment period - you know that Dynegy Midwest Generation has withdrawn their application for water quality certification. This decision follows the National Park Service’s determination to withhold their approval of the project.
What Does this Mean?
It was the strong public and agency opposition to Dynegy's plan that caused them to agree to withdraw their application for water quality certification and redesign their stabilization project. This is a huge win, since the Illinois EPA was poised to approve the plan as originally submitted. Dynegy has indicated it will resubmit its application to the Illinois EPA as soon as August. When that happens, the agency will issue a public notice, and the public comment period will begin. We haven’t seen the plan, but have learned that it may be reduced substantially in its size and impact. If that is the case, it is unlikely that the Illinois EPA will hold another public hearing for Water Quality Certification.
We are in regular contact with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (ACE). They do not intend to require Dynegy to refile their application. But the ACE has not ruled out another public notice and comment period. We are asking for both, because we believe the plan and supporting documentation should be made available to the public for comment.
Enforcement in Process
In the meantime, Dynegy’s plan for closing the ash pits is in the hands of the Illinois EPA and the Attorney General’s office as part of an enforcement action, initiated by the Illinois EPA last June. This enforcement action is expected to address the closure of the coal ash pits; river bank stabilization; and possibly fines.
Coal ash pollution ponding next to eroded banks that abut Dynegy's coal ash pits. Pam Richart, Eco-Justice Collaborative
It’s Still a Plan to Cap and Leave
Dynegy continues to push to cap its ash pits and leave them in place. That is why they need to install stabilization next to the ash pits that will withstand the strong, continuous, erosional forces of the Middle Fork. Eco-Justice Collaborative continues to lobby for full ash removal. The pits are unlined, and a cap will not separate the toxic waste from groundwater, an coal ash contaminants will continue to flow into the river. Because the Middle Fork continues to move west toward the ash pits, we remain unconvinced that any stabilization will be sufficient to prevent a breach in the long-term.
Need to Stay Engaged
While these are clear wins in this multi-year campaign, the fight to protect Illinois’ only National Scenic River from coal ash pollution is not yet over. In the coming months, Eco-Justice Collaborative will continue to monitor agency actions related to the Middle Fork, and push for a resolution that:
Permanently removes the ash to an upland location away from the river.
Ensures future generations are not left with financial liabilities of polluting coal ash or the threat of a coal ash spill.
Informs and engages the public in decision-making.
This is Our River. Let’s Protect It!
We want to thank you again for your work thus far, and hope that you will continue to support efforts to keep the river safe for generations to come. Coal ash is being moved at many other locations in the U.S. We think that Illinois’ only National Scenic River deserves similar protection.
Save the Date for an August Fundraiser to
Protect the Middle Fork!
Thanks to the generosity of the new owners of the Rose Bowl in downtown Urbana, Eco-Justice Collaborative and Protect the Middle Fork Citizens Advocacy Group are jointly sponsoring an event to raise funds to help cover costs for the ongoing campaign to protect our National Scenic River.
When: August 10, from 5pm to 8pm
Where: Rose Bowl Tavern
106 Race St # 1, Urbana
What: Music and fun in a relaxed atmosphere
Cameo appearance by the Protect the Middle Fork singers!
Cost: $10. That’s it!
Admission includes a yard sign for those who want one
You’re going to want to be there, so “mark your calendar” today! More information will be provided soon.
919 W. University Avenue
Champaign IL 61821 United States