Environment

Tuscola may lease land to farmer for alternative energy source

TUSCOLA – An expiring lease on city ground near a water treatment facility may put the city on the cutting edge of green energy.

The city is talking about leasing ground sprayed with waste water to a farmer who wants to plant miscanthus, a towering grass being studied for its energy use. If farmer Dan Meyer of Tuscola is able to plant miscanthus on the almost 160 acres northeast of town, it'll be the most in the area. The University of Illinois is currently testing the grass.


UI student dies of an unidentified infection

A University of Illinois student has died from an unidentified bacterial infection, and a second student is recovering from meningitis.

The two appear unrelated, and tests confirmed Friday afternoon that Robert H. Davis, 21, of Mokena, did not have a contagious form of meningitis.


River conservation group happy with decree

URBANA – A river conservation group is pleased that more ideas will be considered in restoration of area rivers as a result of a final consent decree involving an ammonia spill six years ago that killed tens of thousands of fish.

U.S. Chief District Judge Michael McCuskey on Feb. 7 approved a consent decree that settles a federal lawsuit filed against the University of Illinois, the Champaign-Urbana Sanitary District and CEDA Inc., the university's cleaning contractor.


Urbana makes it easy to dispose of light bulbs with mercury

URBANA – Don't know what to do with those burned-out compact fluorescent light bulbs, which contain small amounts of dangerous mercury?

The city of Urbana has a recycling solution – but it will cost you.


Groundwater testing begun near Oakwood

OAKWOOD – Bunge North America has hired a private company to drill wells at a fly ash dump site east of Oakwood, to monitor the groundwater for the presence of potential contaminants and to determine the flow of groundwater.

Deb Seidel, spokeswoman for Bunge North America in St. Louis, said the company drilled three separate groundwater-monitoring wells last week in the Grays Siding area just north of U.S. 150 and less than a mile west of the entrance to the Vermilion County Fairgrounds.


Beautification project in Rantoul planned for spring

RANTOUL – Sonna Iorio of Rantoul took her daily walk for exercise one day last summer and ventured downtown, where she saw a great deal of litter and weeds.

The sight disturbed her enough to ask Joe Bolser, Rantoul Chamber of Commerce executive director, if something could be done. There could, he said, and the result was the formation of Clean-Up Rantoul, an organization aimed at cleaning up the litter.


FutureGen proposal eliminates processes

TUSCOLA – An engineer who has looked at technical documents from the Department of Energy as part of its proposed restructuring of FutureGen says the new proposal eliminates hydrogen from the process needed to generate electricity.

Meanwhile, the Department of Energy's decision not to issue a "record of decision" may mean that none of the four finalist sites (Mattoon, Tuscola, or the Texas cities of Odessa and Jewett) have been cleared by the government as environmentally suitable for similar projects.


Government, alliance use same report to back stance

Though they've ended up on opposite sides of how to build zero-emissions power plants, both the Department of Energy and FutureGen Alliance are using a report on coal to back their arguments.

When the Department of Energy announced its plans to abandon its agreement with the nonprofit alliance of 13 international power companies, it cited "The Future of Coal," written at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.


Residents form group to help fight for cleanup

CHAMPAIGN – Like so many others in Champaign, M.D. Pelmore's basement sump pump goes into overdrive during the rainy season to keep groundwater at bay.

But every once in awhile there's something else: an unusual smell he can't quite place.


AmerenIP report says no imminent danger at site

CHAMPAIGN – A voluminous new report from Ameren says the public's health is not immediately threatened by underground contamination at a former coal gasification plant in north Champaign.

But test results in the report show contaminants in the soil, including benzene, have spread beyond the AmerenIP site to the north, west and east – and possibly to the south. And at least one groundwater well just west of the property, and others on the site itself, are contaminated with benzene, a known carcinogen, and other byproducts of the manufacturing process.


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