SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA) — The Illinois Attorney General’s Office is suing a publicly-owned utility company in Sangamon County.
The lawsuit centers on Springfield’s City Water, Light and Power group, who allegedly released 700 tons of coal fly ash unintentionally in 2021. It caused a massive cloud to sit over a chunk of the city.
“All Illinois residents have a right to clean air, and I am committed to enforcing the environmental laws and regulations that protect that right,” Attorney General Kwame Raoul said in a statement.
Raoul said workers at the Dahlman Power Station were forced to release the ash after improperly operating equipment in the facility. In the time after the release, environmentalists voiced their concerns about the health risks of the debris. Now, two years later, they are happy to see the state finally taking action.
“I think it’s a great step in the right direction,” Nick Dodson with the Illinois Sierra Club said. “They’re showing coal plants, etcetera, that the state is paying attention, that the IEPA is paying attention, and that they won’t get away with the same old business.”
Raoul’s office is also requiring CWLP to work with the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency to provide a thorough report to the court within 30 days of the order officially being submitted.
A spokesperson for CWLP said the utility would fully cooperate.
“Corrective action was taken and disciplinary measures were issued for procedures not being followed with regard to the valve operation on the silo. We are very thankful no injuries occurred with this incident,” the spokesperson said in a statement.
While no one was injured during or in the immediate aftermath of the release, Dodson took issue with the idea that no one was hurt, considering the potential long term health effects.
“Them saying that there were no actual injuries from this is, I think, extremely disingenuous and dangerous and not actually valid to community health standards,” Dodson said.