A federal judge sided with a coalition of environmental and health groups that filed a lawsuit against Peoria's E.D. Edwards coal plant alleging that the company is "emitting an excessive amount of soot pollution."
"Old plants like Edwards need to install modern pollution control equipment, but Dynegy has failed to do so, while taking a 'duct tape and bubble gum' approach to maintenance," said Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) attorney Ann Alexander. "The company may have saved itself money, but Peoria citizens paid the price in dirty air. We're glad the court recognized that this has gone on long enough."
In addition to the NRDC, the Environmental Law & Policy Center, Sierra Club Illinois and the Respiratory Health Association (RHA) lodged a suit against the Dynegy-owned facility alleging that the company "violated its operating permit thousands of times over seven years." Specifically, the indicator used to measure how much soot is emitted from the facility's smokestacks was not properly maintained, therefore allowing for illegal levels of particulate matter to be cast into the atmosphere.
"Dynegy's E.D. Edwards coal plant has burdened surrounding communities with pollution for decades," said Joyce Blumenshine, Sierra Club Heart of Illinois Group Chair and member of the Central Illinois Healthy Community Alliance. "The decrepit technology the plant calls pollution controls is clearly ineffective. The court has done its job well in holding Dynegy accountable for the harm it has done. Peoria, Pekin and Bartonville families have a right to air that is safe to breathe. This ruling is a much needed step in the right direction."
The remedy phase is the next step in the case, which will determine what the facility has to do to get in compliance with its permit and reduce its pollution levels. Additionally, the court will determine what penalties the company will have to pay for the plant's Clean Air Act violations.
"More than ten thousand people in Peoria, Pekin and surrounding communities live with asthma and are being subjected to this illegal pollution," said Joel Africk, RHA president and chief executive officer. "Violations at the Edwards coal plant have been going on for years and the judge's decision ensures this disregard for our clean air laws will not continue."