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.
Where: Montgomery County Historic Courthouse, No. 1 Courthouse Square, Hillsboro, IL
second floor county board room.
When: February 19, 2014, 6 PM
Deer Run Mine has been operating since 2011. Subsequent to its approval in 2009, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources / Office of Mines and Minerals allowed the construction of an 80-foot tall, one square-mile coal slurry impoundment instead of the in-ground facility proposed during the permit application review and public hearing process. This facility, which contains highly toxic, carcinogenic chemicals and organic compounds that cannot be recycled or reused, is located in the City of Hillsboro, next to a hospital; school; nursing home; and day care center. It is rated as a high hazard dam, which means that if the coal slurry impoundment were to fail, it would result in loss of life and property in Hillsboro and Schram City, and could send pollution downstream into the watershed of Lake Hillsboro.
Now a second high-hazard coal slurry impoundment will be constructed next to the first, since the first impoundment was designed to last just five years. It will be twice the size as the first, covering an area 1/2 miles by two miles. It, too, will be located in the City of Hillsboro.
Since 2009, Citizens Against Longwall Mining and the Illinois Chapter of the Sierra Club have been petitioning the IDNR / OMM for an administrative review hearing regarding the approval of #399 that was incomplete, invalid, and misleading. The incised waste refuse area approved in Permit #399 was changed through “insignificant revisions” to become an enclosed impoundment with a synthetic liner. Hillsoboro Energy then applied for a Significant Revision to Permit #399 to raise the already constructed base of the impoundment to a height of 80 feet. There have been 4 permit applications to OMM by Hillsboro Energy:
- The original Permit #399.
- Significant Revision 1 of Permit# 399 for impoundment 1.
- Permit #424 for the 2nd impoundment.
- Renewal of Permit #399.
On October 31, 2013, a new IDNR Hearing Officer dismissed CALM’s petition to challenge Permit #399. See Administrative Review Testimony on Deer Run Mine Not Allowed by Office of Mines and Minerals. Citizens are greatly concerned about the power of IDNR / OMM to make changes they deem acceptable to coal mining permits as “Insignificant Revisions,” which are not placed on public notice and have no comment opportunity. See more at Citizens Against Longwall Mining.
On February 19, 2014, the IDNR/OSM will be holding a public hearing to review the 5-year Permit #399 that includes the now-functioning coal slurry impoundment. The hearing will take place at Montgomery County’s Historic Courthouse at 6pm.