Over 350 concerned residents signed a petition at the Old Settler’s Celebration to request that Mayor John Downs have air monitors placed at the hospital and nursing home which are in close proximity to the coal processing plant at Deer Run Mine.
By monitoring the air for particulate matter, the quality of the ambient air can be determined with respect to two criteria pollutants, PM10 and PM2.5. Both of these along with other pollutants are monitored across the U S with Illinois having several sites, but none located in Hillsboro.
The World Health Organization has published a report on the health damage resulting from particulate matter. The smaller particle of 2.5 micrometers size is more harmful than the 10 micrometer, but all dust particles should be controlled and monitored to protect children, the elderly, and residents with existing health issues.
There are no air monitors on or off the mine site, but there are particulate matter limitations in the lifetime air permit provided by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency. Residents have concerns about the coal dust and fumes emanating from Deer Run. They want to know what is in the air they are breathing.
The response to the air monitor petition to Mayor Downs can be summed up by these 3 possible outcomes: 1) Petitioners are ignored. 2) The City of Hillsboro covers the cost of the monitor installation. 3) Hillsboro Energy LLC accepts the responsibility and expense of the air monitoring. Regrettably, Number 1 is the outcome that has happened since the petition was presented to the Mayor on October 8, 2013.
The quality of air in Hillsboro is an important issue to discuss at the 5 year renewal of Deer Run Mine’s Permit 399. This Public Hearing will be held on February 19, 2014, 6 pm, at the Historic Courthouse in the County Board Room. Citizens can and must protect their community and health. Contact Mayor Downs at City Hall at 217-532-6615 and let him know your concerns.
For more information download this article by Sue Bradbury, THE HEALTH EFFECTS OF BREATHING THE AIR NEAR COAL MINES.