Digital Access

Digital Access
Access from all your digital devices and receive breaking news and updates from around the area.

Home Delivery

Home Delivery
Local news, prep sports, Chicago sports, local and regional entertainment, business, home and lifestyle, food, classified and more! News you use every day! Daily, Daily including the e-Edition or e-Edition only.

Text Alerts

Text Alerts
Choose your news! Select the text alerts you want to receive: breaking news, prep sports scores, school closings, weather, and more. Text alerts are a free service from, but text rates may apply.

Email Newsletters

Email Newsletters
We'll deliver news & updates to your inbox. Sign up for free e-newsletters today.

Energy company wants to wall off Vermilion River's coal ash

OAKWOOD (AP) – A power company is looking to wall off Illinois’ only national scenic river with rocks instead of removing toxic waste seeping into the water.

State regulators and industry engineers are worried that the Middle Fork of the Vermilion River is eroding its banks so quickly it could unleash a surge of coal ash and water, the Chicago Tribune reported. The river runs through eastern Illinois’ Kickapoo State Park, about 120 miles south of Chicago.

The Middle Fork is home to three pits of toxic coal ash from the shuttered Vermilion Power Station. The groundwater inside the unlined pits saturates the coal ash and seeps into the Middle Fork, with contaminants staining the riverbank and creating toxic orange pools when the river is at low flow.

Instead of digging out the toxic muck, Vistra Energy, the ash pits’ owner, has proposed building a wall of rocks to armor a riverbank section more than six football fields long.

Vistra’s proposal would require President Donald Trump and Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administrations to exempt the Texas-based company from several environmental regulations, including the 1968 National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act that calls for biologically and culturally significant streams to be “free of impoundments, with shorelines or watersheds still largely primitive.”

Environmental groups said the company’s proposal is extreme and are urging a federal court to order Vistra to remove the waste from the Middle Fork.

State officials said it could take at least another year to review the company’s proposal.

The coal-fired power plant next to the river was shuttered in 2011 by Texas-based Dynegy, which knew at the time that heavy metals found in coal ash were polluting the river.

Vistra completed a $1.7 billion takeover of Dynegy in April.

Vistra declined to comment on whether the company has considered moving the coal ash to a licensed landfill.

“Vistra knows firsthand the special meaning and natural beauty the state has to offer,” the company said in a statement. “Rest assured: While Vistra inherited this site, as the new owner Vistra is committed to implementing an effective solution.”


Information from: Chicago Tribune,

Loading more