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Shuttered Mine in Douglas County Faces Pollution Complaints

The owner of a shuttered mine in Douglas County faces a pollution complaint from the Illinois Attorney General’s Office.

Michigan-based Alpena Vision Resources was issued waste disposal permits in connection with reclamation work it was doing as the former Murdock Mine, located between Murdock and Newman. But state Attorney General Lisa Madigan's office said Alpena has been allowing sewage bio-solids and fly ash to pollute the air and water. The bio-solids come from sewage treatment facilities in Champaign-Urbana, Danville and Decatur.

The Champaign-based environmental group Prairie Rivers Network said neighbors complained about Alpena’s work at the Murdock Mine for years before the attorney general’s office filed a complaint.

Neighbor Zala Swigart said storing the bio-solids in an unlined slurry pond at the mine threatened nearby water sources --- and smelled terrible.

“I couldn’t keep my windows open, because it stunk so bad”, said Swigart. “I couldn’t take it. I couldn’t stand it. I couldn’t be outside.”

Traci Barkley of the Prairie Rivers Network said Alpena was slow to do the reclamation work it was supposed to do at the Murdock Mine. She accuses Alpena of trying to using the mine site as a landfill, without the necessary environmental permits and safeguards.

"A liner, or actually a few different layers of liner would be required,” said Barkley. “Groundwater monitoring would be required, as well as other pollution controls. None of those exist at this facility. Really, what we have is, what we think is landfilling of waste and calling it reclamation.”

The attorney general’s complaint asks the Illinois Pollution Control Board to levy fines against Alpena, and revoke its waste disposal permits.

Illinois Public Media has been unable to reach officials with Alpena Vision Resources for comment.

Categories: Environment