Report: Chemical pollution present in Illinois groundwater

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Photo courtesy of Illinois State Geological Survey Photo courtesy of Illinois State Geological Survey

ILLINOIS (WAND) – A report from an environmental group found that toxic chemicals are in Illinois groundwater.

The Prairie Rivers Network says it looked at information from coal-fired power companies in Illinois and found contamination in violation of state Environmental Protection Agency groundwater standards and U.S. EPA drinking water standards. Chemicals found included antimony, arsenic, chromium, lead and thallium.

The EPA started requiring companies that deal with the disposal and storage of coal ash to test their water and report findings in 2015. PRN looked at 1,000 pages of information from five coal ash owners and found groundwater violations across multiple contaminants.

The group’s research found arsenic levels higher than the drinking water standard in 14 of 17 sites that had arsenic data to share. Powerton in Pekin had 500 parts per billion of arsenic, which is twice the Illinois groundwater standards. A Waukegan Station, which had 9,300 parts per billion of arsenic, was labeled as an upgradient but had elevated boron levels.

In addition, Duck Creek Power Station in Canton had 340 parts per billion of lead. That number is three times the Illinois groundwater standard.

“These data clearly indicate that these companies are polluting area groundwaters,” said PRN Water Resources Engineer Andrew Rehn. “Contamination was particularly high in unlined impoundments where groundwater can flow through the coal ash. To think that in some cases these companies plan to leave these impoundments capped in place in contact with groundwater forever is ridiculous.”

PRN says City Water Light and Power in Springfield failed to report complete groundwater data, leaving out arsenic, lead and other measurements.

Power plants closed before October 2015 don’t have to report groundwater monitoring data, but PRN leaders say those facilities are still damaging the environment.

“The takeaway from these findings is clear,” Rehn said. “These power plants are contaminating our groundwater with toxic chemicals and harming our environment.”

Click here for more information about the plant violations.

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