The Illinois EPA has decided to renew a permit a for coal mine near Industry. The permit, called an NPDES permit, allows the mine to discharge certain amounts of pollutants into state waterways.
This is the same permit that, last year, the Illinois Pollution control Board found the mine had violated over 600 times.
The Illinois Attorney General filed suit against the owners of the mine, Springfield Coal, after several environmental groups filed started their own legal action.
Jessica Dexter is an attorney with one of the groups, the Environmental Law and Policy Center.
She said the ELPC is already looking into challenging the permit renewal.
“I can't think of an example that would be a better situation for I-EPA to deny a permit until the permitee can show it intends to comply with the terms of the permit," Dexter said.
Kim Sedgwick lived near the Industry mine site along Grindstone Creek. She said she and her late husband began exploring ways to express their concern through legal channels after seeing what the mine did to forests in the area.
Sedgwick now lives in Macomb and says after a while the process frustrated her.
“After a decade of pursuing these issues, and after being cross examined in the administrative reviews and looked down upon, after hiring a lawyer and after being laughed at by the hearing officers, IDNR personnel and of course the mine, we became so discouraged and exhausted, both holding down full time jobs, building a house, being a caregiver for an elderly parent that we had to bow out,” Sedgwick said in a written statement.
She released another statement after the EPA renewed the mine’s pollution permit saying, “this is a complete mockery of our state agency and our Illinois system.”
The Illinois Pollution Control board has yet to levy fines against the company. ELPC Attorney Dexter said a decision should be made some time in June and the fines could total 60 million dollars.
The renewed permit also allows coal from the proposed Littleton Mine to be processed at the Industry site.