Crown 3 Mine
Crown 3 Mine is an underground operation in Macoupin, IL, operated by Centre Crown Mining.
The mine was given by permission by Illinois regulators to inject coal slurry into the ground, despite the protests of citizens. Coal slurry is a byproduct of washing coal, and can contain arsenic, heavy metals, and other pollutants. In 2009, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources approved a request by Crown 3 owners to start injecting slurry in a different location. Permission at Crown 3 came in the form of an “insignificant permit revision,” meaning that a hearing and public notification weren’t required. The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) categorizes slurry injection wells as the sort used to get rid of non-hazardous waste, and no IEPA permit is required before operations begin.
- MSHA ID: 1102632
- Operator: Centre Crown Mining LLC
- Controller: Hershiel H Hayden
- Union: UMWA
- County: Macoupin
- State: IL
- Latitude: 39.43
- Longitude: -89.71
- 2007 Production (short tons): 1,511,109
- Coal Type: Bituminous
- Mining Method: Underground
- Mine Status: Active
- Average No. of Employees: 236
A 2011 report by Prairie Rivers and the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP), "Illinois at Risk: Lax safeguards and no enforcement endanger the water, air & lives of residents near coal ash dumps" found that Illinois has the second highest number of contaminated coal ash dump sites in the United States. The report evaluates data from groundwater sampling conducted by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) at coal ash disposal sites in 2010. IEPA found exceedances of health standards for coal ash contaminants in groundwater at all 22 sites evaluated. Prairie Rivers and IEP said two-thirds of the impoundments don't have groundwater monitoring and don't have liners, which keep contaminants from leaching out of the impoundments. And dams holding the impoundments at most of the 83 sites have no permits and have not been inspected for safety or stability by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.
The report focuses on the specific problems at 10 of the 22 coal waste sites: the Vermilion Power Station, the Joliet 9 Generating Station and Joliet 29 Generating Station, the now retired Ameren Energy Venice Power Station in Madison and St. Clair counties, coal ash generated by the Bunge dry corn mill in Vermilion County, the Hutsonville Power Station, the Crown 3 Mine, the Industry Mine, the Gateway Mine, and the coal mine reclamation Murdock site by Alpena Vision Resources in Douglas County.
Prairie Rivers and the EIP said the U.S. EPA should implement comprehensive coal ash regulations that would regulate coal ash as a special waste with federal standards that all states would have to follow, like requiring liners at disposal sites, covers, monitoring, cleanup standards and the phase out of ash ponds. According to the IEPA's ash impoundment strategy progress report in February 2010, the agency now requires new ash ponds to have liners, and the agency supports the U.S. EPA's initiative for stricter controls on coal ash.
The 2011 report, "State of Failure: How States Fail to Protect Our Health and Drinking Water from Toxic Coal Ash" by Earthjustice and Appalachian Mountain Advocates, looked at EPA data and found that state regulations are often inadequate for protecting public health. The report noted that Illinois ranked first in the number of coal ash ponds with 83, yet only about a third of the ponds are lined or monitored.
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- Bruce Rushton, "Activists raise concerns about coal mine slurry injection in Illinois" July 18, 2010.
- Jeff Stant and Traci Barkley, "Illinois at Risk: Lax safeguards and no enforcement endanger the water, air & lives of residents near coal ash dumps" Prairie Rivers and Environmental Integrity Project report, August 17, 2011.
- Tracy Moss, "EPA says it's monitoring coal ash sites" The News-Gazette, Aug. 19, 2011.
- "Major U.S. Coal Mines," Energy Information Administration