- Associated Press - Friday, October 3, 2014

ELKHART, Ill. (AP) - Residents in central Illinois are worried that a proposed coal-waste storage facility might affect the quality of their air and water.

More than 250 people attended a Thursday evening meeting of Logan County’s Zoning Board of Appeals. The board is deciding on a request from St. Louis-based Arch Coal Inc. to reclassify more than 300 acres of agricultural land to expand an existing coal-waste storage facility.

The Logan County Board would have to approve any decision that the zoning board makes.

Erin Davis of Elkhart said she wants to know more about what risks the expanded facility poses.

“I’m not planning on moving anytime soon,” Davis said. “I’m interested in the long-term effects that this disposal site could have on my children.”

Several other residents in the standing-room only crowd said they were concerned about groundwater contamination, The (Springfield) State Journal-Register reported (http://bit.ly/YZP09g).

The formal rezoning application said the mine wouldn’t be able to operate without the expansion and more than 300 jobs would be lost.

Viper Mine spokeswoman Logan Bonacorsi said before the meeting that the new storage area will comply with environmental requirements.

“The fact is, safety and environmental stewardship is a core operating principle for the Viper Mine,” Bonacorsi said. “We are committed to being a good neighbor to the community of Elkhart for many years.”

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Information from: The State Journal-Register, http://www.sj-r.com

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