A new report claims coal-fueled power plants have gotten around clean water laws for decades, and Illinois has some of the worst offenders. The study from the Environmental Integrity Project says power plants have been allowed to pollute waterways and drinking water sources with toxins such as arsenic and lead.
“Only 30 percent had any limits at all on even a single one” of the toxic metals, said Eric Shaeffer of the Environmental Integrity Project. That includes dumping into rivers that have already been polluted. The report singles out 10 plants along the Illinois River that are allowed to discharge unlimited amounts of mercury into the water, despite a formal listing by the state calling the river “impaired” by the metal. The state does not require the plants to monitor those discharges.
“That’s a see-no-evil approach that we have to get past,” said Schaeffer, adding that many plants, including 14 in Illinois, have been operating with expired clean water permits. The report recommends the EPA start enforcing existing regulations and adopt tougher laws that have already been proposed.