Concerns over Pond Creek Mine's proposed pipeline into Big Muddy - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Concerns over Pond Creek Mine's proposed pipeline into Big Muddy River

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WILLIAMSON COUNTY, Ill. -- Environmentalists and neighbors are concerned about a proposed project that would dump waste water from Pond Creek Coal Mine into the Big Muddy River. 

Williamson Energy, which operates the mine, submitted permit application #456 to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources back in July. The application proposes a 12-mile pipeline to dispose of process water and mine infiltration water into the Big Muddy. 

The water flow would have a daily rate of 2.7 to 3.5 million gallons daily, and have chloride and sulfate that typically exceed allowed standards. 

On October 23rd, a public hearing was held at the IDNR's office of Mines and Minerals in Benton for people like Joyce Blumenshine to voice their concerns.

Blumenshine is Conservation Co-chair of the Illinois' Sierra Club and says the chemicals are harmful to wildlife, "Chlorides are known to cause problems for fish reproduction and other aquatic species." 

Her other issue is that the additional water could cause flooding, which the Big Muddy is already known to do. "A third greater amount of water will be dumped into that river everyday and could cause more erosion or more dangerous currents," Blumenshine explains. 

Gregory Wendt, who e-mailed a comment against the pipeline, believes the mine should come up with other alternatives. "Anytime any company is doing business, they should handle their own waste. They certainly shouldn't be allowed to dump any kind of waste into a public waterway." 

The mine's water is currently being discharged into an unnamed tributary to pond creek. 

When reaching out to Williamson Energy's parent company, Foresight Energy, a representative said information should have been made available at the hearing. The problem with that is IDNR and Foresight energy officials would not answer the public's questions. 

According to the transcript of the public hearing comments, an IDNR representative said:

"I can tell you that tonight, there will be no answering of questions. I can tell you, those questions will be submitted to the Department, and they may be answered or they may not, depending on the questions." 

Opponents to the project believe the lack of information and limited does not give the public a chance to have an informed decision and submit their comments to the department.

The last day to submit a comment is November 2. Those interested can e-mail this address or call the office of Mines and Minerals in Benton for more information.

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