The Chicago Tribune is reporting that a report of testing funded in a joint project by the Environmental Integrity Project, EarthJustice and the Sierra Club shows elevated levels of harmful contaminates in 18 private wells used for drinking water by the residents of the Smiley subdivision on Brandon Road in southwest Joliet. The contaminates include arsenic, barium, copper, among others. The source of the contamination is attributed to the Lincoln Stone Quarry Landfill, which has allowed coal ash to be dumped since the early 1960s.
The EPA is disputing the findings saying that tests in 2006 detected only low levels of boron. Their response was that they don’t think residents were exposed to any contaminates in the drinking water. According to EarthJustice, people living near unlined coal ash ponds can have a 1 in 50 risk of cancer, which is more than 2,000 times higher than what the EPA considers acceptable. However, as the Chicago Tribune article stated, many states require no groundwater monitoring at all. The EPA classifies coal ash as “special waste,” meaning it is exempt from hazardous waste regulations that would force the company to dispose of it in a safer way.