Monterey Mine No. 2

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This article is part of the Coal Issues portal on SourceWatch, a project of CoalSwarm and the Center for Media and Democracy. See here for help on adding material to CoalSwarm.

The No. 2 Mine was an underground mine operated by ExxonMobil's Monterey Coal Company in Clinton County, near Albers, Illinois, from April 1977 until August 1996.[1] The operations included coal extraction, coal processing and coal slurry and refuse (mine waste) disposal. The mining permit issued by the state of Illinois allowed the company to mine up to 12,000 acres.[2]

Reclamation and water pollution

ExxonMobil began surface coal mine reclamation at the Mine #2 site early in 2005 and completed work in early 2007.[3] According to the River Front Times:[4]

"When mining commenced at Monterey No. 2 in 1977, Exxon needed a place to dispose of the unwanted material that came out of the mineshafts. A consultant's report prepared for Exxon two years later indicates that the company dug a six-foot-deep pit and dumped liquid and solid waste only a few feet above the water table, which is as shallow as ten feet in some places. That pit became the base of a waste pile that grew to its current height of 50 feet. Over the years, contaminants trickled through the silty clay beneath the gob pile into the Pearl Aquifer, confirms Bill Buscher, a supervisor for the Illinois EPA's water bureau. In 1991 the state ordered Exxon to begin pumping water out of the aquifer to prevent the spread of pollution underground. But another eight years would pass before the state officially cited the company for violations."

In 2002 and 2003, the state Department of Public Health, acting on requests by several residents, tested the water wells of people living near the waste pile. Levels of manganese above 500 parts per billion were found in one quarter of the 33 wells sampled, according to a report prepared by the health department. In 2002, after years of complaints from residents, the state EPA cited Exxon for violating air-quality laws, but did not fine the company.[5]

Lawsuit

After the reclamation, a local group Citizens Opposing Pollution brought a six-count amended complaint in Clinton County Circuit Court against ExxonMobil Coal and the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, alleging violations of the state's Mining and Water Use acts resulting from the coal mine reclamation. The circuit court dismissed the group's amended complaint with prejudice. An appellate court later reversed the dismissal. At issue was whether a citizen suit can be brought under a section of Illinois' Surface Coal Mining Land Conservation and Reclamation Act to challenge site conditions at a coal mine reclaimed in accordance with previously approved state permits, and whether the state's Water Use Act allows a private right of action to challenge activity authorized by a mining permit.

In a unanimous ruling in February 2012, the Illinois Supreme Court said mining act permits are not subject to judicial review outside of the Administrative Review Law, dismissing the suit.[6]

Mine Data

  • Owner: ExxonMobil
  • Parent company: Monterey Coal Company
  • Location: Albers, Illinois
  • GPS coordinates
  • Production:
  • Type of coal:
  • Mine type: Underground
  • Equipment: Longwall
  • Number of employees:

Articles and resources

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External Links

EIA Major U.S. Coal Mines: http://www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/coal/page/acr/table9.html

The Illinois Coal Industry Statutory Mandated Report 2008 an industry report containing information on Illinois mines.

References

  1. "Monterey Coal Mine #2 Site," Illinois EPA, accessed February 2012.
  2. Shelley Smithson, "Exxon pulled out of its Clinton County coal mine nearly a decade ago. Locals still live with the mess," Riverfront Times, January 21, 2004.
  3. "Monterey Coal Mine #2: Fact Sheet 2," Illinois EPA, April 2007.
  4. Shelley Smithson, "Exxon pulled out of its Clinton County coal mine nearly a decade ago. Locals still live with the mess," Riverfront Times, January 21, 2004.
  5. Shelley Smithson, "Exxon pulled out of its Clinton County coal mine nearly a decade ago. Locals still live with the mess," Riverfront Times, January 21, 2004.
  6. Jessica Karmasek, "Ill. SC: Provision doesn't allow for judicial review of terms of mining permits," Legal Newsline, Feb. 16, 2012.