Industry Mine is a surface strip mine in McDonough County, Illinois, owned by Freeman United Coal Mining Company until 2007, and then Springfield Coal. Industry Mine is near the La Moine River, and has had 300 water-related permit violations over a five-year period.
Public opposition and permitting
On December 11, 2009, the Sierra Club, Prairie Rivers Network, and the Environmental Law and Policy Center filed a notice of intent to sue Freeman United Coal Mining Company, regarding repeated and excessive violations of the Clean Water Act at their strip mine near Industry. The group found that Freeman had over 300 documented exceedances of their NPDES permit at the mine since July, 2003. Joyce Blumenshine of the Illinois Sierra Club said: "According to Freeman Coal's own reports, the Industry mine has broken the law hundreds of times in the last five years, with over sixty violations through August of this year. If every one of those violations were prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, Freeman Coal would be forced to pay several million dollars in fines. Our goal is to see them comply with the law and operate the mine in a responsible way that is safe for local residents."
In May 2010, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan filed a complaint against Freeman United and Springfield Coal with the Illinois Pollution Control Board after the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency referred the mine’s water permit violations for enforcement action. The complaint states that both Freeman United and Springfield Coal “caused or allowed the discharge from the Industry Mine of iron, manganese, sulfates” for over five years in excess of permit limitations into various area waterways, including Willow and Grindstone creeks.
In October 2010, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) made a tentative determination to issue an NPDES permit to discharge into waters of the state. A public hearing was held in 2011, and a final permit was issued in 2013.
- MSHA ID: 1102668
- Operator: Springfield Coal
- Controller:Brian J. Veldhuizen
- Location: 4440 Ash Grove, Suite A, Springfield, IL 62711
- GPS coordinates:
- Type of coal:
- Mine type: Strip
- Number of employees:
- Recoverable Reserves:
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.
Articles and resources
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To see a listing of coal mines in a particular state, click on the map:
- Sarah Hodgdon, "The Fight is on to Stop Coal's Expansion Into Illinois" Treehugger, Aug. 26, 2011.
- Jeff Biggers, "300 Clean Water Act Violations! Illinois Citizens File Notice to Sue Reckless Coal Strip Mine" HuffPo, Dec. 11, 2009.
- Erin McCarthy, "State files mine suit" The McDonough County Voice, Feb. 18, 2010.
- "NPDES Permit No. IL0061247" Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, October 13, 2010.
- Jeff Biggers, "Canton Lake Debacle: Gov. Quinn, Do You Know Your IEPA Might Permit the State's Most Destructive and Reckless Strip Mine?" HuffPo, Nov. 18, 2011.
- 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.