On February 21, 2018, the Middle Fork of the Vermilion River crested at nearly 18.5 feet, the highest it has been in nearly 25 years. The erosive forces of the river are a growing threat to three coal ash pits constructed in the floodplain of the river adjacent to the now closed Dynegy Vermilion Power Station. Over three million cubic yards of toxic coal ash has been stored in unlined pits immediately adjacent to the stream channel.
We know that the river caused nearly 20 feet of erosion at the New East Ash Pit between 2009 and 2015 (just six years), and that much of that occurred during two 2015 storms. We also know that just 15 to 30 feet remains along 775 feet of riverbank adjacent to the North and Old East Ash Pits.
While Dyney hopes to reinforce the banks near the pits, no riverbank stabilization lasts forever. It’s time to move the ash away from the river to a safe, lined and properly monitored facility. Eco-Justice Collaborative has mounted a campaign calling on the Illinois EPA to do just that. For more information go to: ecojusticecollaborative.org.