IL EPA reports coal slurry contamination in Saline Co.

IL EPA reports coal slurry contamination in Saline Co.

SALINE COUNTY, IL (KFVS) - Illinois Environmental Protection Agency Director Lisa Bonnett referred an enforcement action against The American Coal Company to the Illinois Attorney General's office.

The coal company is accused of releasing coal slurry into Bethel Creek, affecting a home in Saline County.

The agency is seeking an order to require the company to immediately cease the discharge of coal slurry and other contaminants from the facility and maintain 24-hour cleanup operations until further notice, as well as other compliance measures.

American Coal, an underground bituminous coal mining company, is a subsidiary of Murray Energy Corporation. The facility is located one mile east of Galatia in Saline County.

On February 9, an elderly resident who lives next to the coal company's injection well site had to be evacuated when coal slurry released from the well storage area and seeped into his crawlspace.

A representative of American Coal contacted an Illinois EPA regional office, reporting that an unknown amount of coal slurry was released into Bethel Creek due to a slurry line failure.

Illinois EPA responded to the site to conduct a spill response investigation to determine the extent of the coal slurry released into the creek.

During the inspection, the EPA said they found areas where sumps had been built for the removal of coal slurry by pumps and straw bales that had been placed on a slurry boil and along the creek to aid as a dam.

Downstream from the facility, Illinois EPA reported they saw additional damage, including water in the creek that was black in color.

Illinois EPA collected numerous samples from the site for further analysis.

On Feb. 10, Illinois EPA directed American Coal to report the release to the Illinois Emergency Management Agency. This incident was reported as a coal slurry discharge affecting at least 3.8 miles of Bethel Creek.

The cause of the discharge is currently unknown.

In the referral, the agency cited violations of the Illinois Environmental Protection Act, the Illinois Pollution Control Board's regulations and the company's National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit by causing or allowing discharge of coal slurry, which has caused water pollution and deposited contaminants on the land.

Illinois EPA asked the Attorney General to get an immediate order that requires various compliance measures be taken by American Coal.

Illinois EPA representatives will remain on-site to monitor the situation.

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