Dynegy coal-ash pits lawsuit.jpg

Coal-ash pits, foreground and background right, are shown in 2013 near the former Vermilion Power Station, background left, which Dynegy Midwest Generation LLC closed in 2011, near the Middle Fork River upstream from Kickapoo State Recreation Area near Oakwood.

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DANVILLE — State officials writing the new rules that will regulate coal ash in Illinois are inviting the public to give input into what should be included.

Senate Bill 9 — the Coal Ash Pollution Protection Act, which became law in July — directed the Illinois EPA to draft new rules regulating coal ash. Locally, those would impact how the state regulates sites such as the former Vermilion Power Station northwest of Danville, where three impoundments of ash left over from the coal-burning process sit along the Middle Fork River.

IEPA officials involved in writing the rules will hold listening sessions from 2-4 p.m. and 6-8 p.m. today at Bremer Auditorium on the Danville Area Community College campus.

Prairie Rivers Network’s Andrew Rehn said similar sessions he’s attended have resulted in good turnout and participation.

“It really is a chance to interact with the people who are going to be regulating coal ash. ... It’s been productive,” said Rehn, who will be attending along with other Prairie Rivers Network officials.

Some of the points the group’s officials will be emphasizing to state officials include requiring options for closing coal-ash pits that permanently protect the groundwater, which means keeping the ash dry forever.

“We don’t want coal ash stored in a way it can get wet,” he said, adding that if it does, harmful chemicals will leach from it.

They will also emphasize that the state’s review of closure plans for coal-ash sites must be a “robust” review of various options.

“We want to know they looked at all options,” Rehn said, including computer modeling of various alternatives and predictions of how long pollution would last and its impacts.

And they will also emphasize including public participation in the closure-plan decision process, suggesting ways the state can better make the public aware of opportunities to participate and more easily access information, like proposed closure plans.

Rehn said IEPA officials will get started this fall on writing these rules that will likely not be in place until March 2021.