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Thursday, July 25, 2013 02:37 pm

BETTER LATE THAN NEVER

Six months after regulators warned they were going to get serious about groundwater contamination at a Carlinville area mine, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency has referred a pollution case to the state attorney general’s office for enforcement. Options now range from a negotiated settlement to a lawsuit filed before the Illinois Pollution Control Board, which has the power to issue fines. Commonly called Shay Mine 1, the mine is owned by a subsidiary of Foresight Energy, one of the nation’s largest coal producers. Foresight, which did not return a call for comment, had protested that the IEPA in 2009 had promised, in writing, to work things out cooperatively if the company bought the mine from Exxon. No longer. “IEPA feels that the seriousness and scope of the violations makes legal action the most appropriate path forward,” wrote EPA spokesman Andrew Mason in an email. “IEPA seeks the correction of the violations and any necessary remediation activities as well legally appropriate penalties.” Lisa Salinas, who owns land near the mine and was once labeled a “nut” by an EPA regulator apparently wearied by her phone calls, letters and emails seeking information and urging action, said she’s hoping for an injunction to shut down the mine but she knows the battle isn’t over. “Once you think you’re making inroads and that something is going to be done, the other side ramps up super-defensive actions,” Salinas said.
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