MICHIGAN CITY, Ind.
(AP) -- A major utility’s plan to close five Indiana coal ash ponds at a
power plant along Lake Michigan and move coal ash to a landfill has sparked
concerns from environmental activists about how the dust kicked up by that
project will be controlled.
Public Service Co. is seeking a permit from the state to remove more than
170,000 cubic yards of coal ash from its Michigan City station and transfer
most of it to a state-approved landfill in Wheatfield, the Post-Tribune of
Northwest Indiana reported.
The utility’s plan
has raised concerns about its health and environment risks, particularly for
communities of color, said La’Tonya Troutman, environmental climate justice
chair for the LaPorte County NAACP.
Troutman along with
Ashley Williams, an organizer at Just Transitions NWI, want the Indiana
Department of Environmental Management to extend the May 22 deadline for
public comment on the utility’s plan.
The pair expressed
concern over how the dust would be controlled during removal of coal ash
from one location to another. They said the coronavirus pandemic is raising
health concerns connected to pollution, and most people may not be paying
attention to the utility’s proposal when families are losing jobs and
struggling to stay afloat.
“We’re going to be
taking coal ash from one community and dumping it on the next,” Williams
said. “We don’t want to create future injustices here.”
Nick Meyer said the coal ash will be transported in enclosed trucks from
Michigan City to the Wheatfield landfill, where it would be monitored and
capped when full. A dust control plan is in progress and will be made public
The ash removal
plan is part of the utility’s plan to shutter four ash coal ponds at the R.M.
Schahfer Generating Station in Wheatfield by 2023 and its Michigan City
Generating Station by 2028.
Public comments can
be emailed to IDEM Environmental Manager Alysa Hopkins at AHopkins@idem.IN.gov
or mailed to her at Indiana Department of Environmental Management’s Office
of Land Quality, Solid Waste Permits, Mail Code 65-45, IGCN 1101100, North
Senate Avenue Indianapolis, Indiana 46204--2251.