February 18, 2010

AG Cracks Down on Polluting Coal Mine

A McDonough County coal mine faces an enforcement action from Attorney General Lisa Madigan & her team after over 300 violations of Illinois clean water laws.

Company records show the Industry Mine repeatedly dumped contaminants into Grindstone Creek (left).

According to the Peoria Journal-Star:

In March 31, 2007, the mine was allowed to discharge a daily maximum of up to 7.0 milligrams per liter of iron, but actually discharged 47.9 milligrams per liter, according to the complaint.

The alleged violations stretch back to 2004 and are as recent as December 2009.

"Some of these (violations) are just outrageous," said Joyce Blumenshine, who is a member of the Heart of Illinois Group Sierra Club, which, along with the Environmental Law and Policy Center and the Prairie Rivers Network, filed paperwork in December to sue the mine.

The strip mine is located southwest of Macomb, and has over 300 water permit violations polluting area streams since 2004. The mine discharges into Grindstone Creek, a beautiful Illinois stream with a historic heron rookery and a maternity roost tree of federally endangered Indiana Bats.

The Springfield Coal Company, which owns the Industry Mine, is now seeking permission to open a new mine near Canton Lake (below), source of drinking water for Canton. Canton residents are worried that the violations at the McDonough County mine bode ill for their beloved Canton Lake, and their water supply.

It's great to see the Attorney General stepping in to enforce the law here. There is a lot of talk these days about how to deal with all of their air pollution from burning coal. These violations are a reminder that we also need to do a better job protecting our water supply and farmland from the impacts of coal mining.