Bennett pushes for new guarantees on removal of coal ash pollution
SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) on Thursday introduced legislation through the Senate Environment and Conservation Committee to continue efforts to protect communities in Illinois from toxic pollution by coal ash.
“Coal ash, a byproduct of burning coal in a power plant, is extremely dangerous and can have a lasting impact on the environment, even after a power plant closes,” Bennett said. “It is important that we take precautions to protect Illinois residents, water sources and wildlife from toxic spills.”
Bennett introduced House Bill 3783 to establish training standards for workers who build, install, modify or close surface coal combustion residue (CCR) barriers, also known as coal ash pits.
According to Bennett’s plan, anyone working on a coal ash pit would be required to attend training programs approved by the US Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration. The training would cover erosion control and environmental reclamation, as well as heavy equipment operation and excavation.
“Workers who operate the surface impoundments at JRC should approach well-trained projects,” Bennett said. “This training will hopefully reduce the likelihood of environmental accidents that can occur with the JRC surface reservoirs.
In 2019, Bennett passed legislation to prevent coal ash from entering the Illinois water supply, asking the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) to ensure that power plant operators safely dispose of coal ash. Legislation has made power plant operators responsible for the cost of monitoring and forced plants to set aside money to pay for cleaning up coal ash in the event of a plant shutdown or business failure. .
Later that year, Bennett introduced follow-up legislation to more clearly define who is responsible for the clean-up in the event of a coal ash spill – and how those involved in the clean-up will be protected from exposure to toxic chemicals. .
“These steps are meant to be proactive for our future generations and to work to rectify the toxic footprint of coal in Illinois,” Bennett said. “I am delighted to advance this legislation to provide additional protections, regulations and financial guarantees to prevent coal ash crises from occurring in Illinois.”
Bill 3783 is transferred to the Senate for further consideration.