Press Release from Prairie Rivers Network
Stakeholders and Residents Invited to Public Meeting May 23rd, 7:00 pm at Homer Lake’s Salt Fork Center to Discuss Concerns
Homer, IL – Representatives of Champaign and Vermilion county residents, including stakeholders along the Salt Fork of the Vermilion River, held a press conference today to highlight questions that have been raised in response to media reports that the Village of Homer is negotiating a deal with an out of state coal company to provide water for a proposed coal mine.
Questions have been swirling since media reports surfaced last month suggesting that Sunrise Coal of Terre Haute, Indiana is seeking a deal to purchase water for use in coal processing from the Village of Homer – including water from its drinking water wells near Ogden, or from the Salt Fork River.
“The Salt Fork is a beautiful natural resource in the backyard of our community. It is a rich and diverse sanctuary for wildlife,” explained Sue Smith, local farmer and Salt Fork resident. “Our family has grown up along this river system for generations, appreciating and enjoying its natural beauty. We canoe, kayak, hunt, fish, and bird watch in and along its banks from the Saline Branch at Crystal Lake Park in Urbana to the Vermilion River in Danville.”
Speakers also raised concerns about the mine’s proposal to discharge mine wastewater into Olive Branch, which is a tributary of the Salt Fork River. This has the potential for adding sediments and pollutants such as heavy metals and salts into waters now used for drinking water supplies, fish and wildlife habitat, recreation and livestock watering.
“In the last three years, one-third of Illinois coal mines have been out of compliance with their water discharge permit for over one year or more, so there is serious concern that if this coal mine is approved, the Olive Branch and Salt Fork will bear the burden of increased coal mine pollutants, including chlorides and sulfates as well as heavy metals such as arsenic, lead, mercury and selenium”, explained Traci Barkley, Water Resource Scientist with Prairie Rivers Network. Prairie Rivers Network is a statewide nonprofit that advocates for the protection of Illinois’ rivers and streams.
“We must be able to protect our communities and our resource base. We need transparency based on timely and accurate information from the officials we’ve chosen to serve us and from companies that want to do business here,” said Charles Goodall, a Vermilion County farmer and landowner. “We must put behind us the days when we are ambushed by mining companies.”
To address these concerns, the speakers announced a that public informational meeting hosted by Prairie Rivers Network will be held on Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012 at 7:00 pm at the Salt Fork Center at Homer Lake.
“We urge the village leadership as well as all our local stakeholders and decision makers to seek full disclosure of the risks, and seek guarantees to maintain and enhance the quality of our lives in our community,” said Peter Kuchinke, a Salt Fork landowner and resident.
Local residents, farmers, landowners, anglers, paddlers are invited to discuss concerns they have about the implications these proposals may have on drinking water availability, as well as the lasting ecological health of the Salt Fork River. The goal is to have an open and transparent discussion, voice shared concerns, and obtain answers to questions to protect the Salt Fork River, as well as a sustainable future for our rural Champaign and Vermilion County communities.