Like other states throughout the nation, Illinois is working toward solutions that reduce negative impacts from surface impoundments of coal combustion residuals (CCR, often called coal ash), which are byproducts of burning coal to generate electricity. Coal ash contains elements present in coal, including arsenic, boron, cadmium, chromium, cobalt, lead, lithium, manganese, molybdenum, radium, selenium, sulfur, and thallium. These elements can persist and accumulate in the environment and be associated with negative health impacts.
The Executive Director of the Prairie Research Institute (PRI) established the Coal Ash Response Team (CART) in part to assess coal ash related information that was available from the Illinois scientific surveys.
This report provides an overview of knowledge and information within PRI about coal ash issues. Efforts by the CART are intended to be of value to all stakeholders (e.g., the public, Illinois EPA, site operators, governmental and nongovernmental organizations, research institutions). This report includes information about potential impacts of coal ash impoundments, a review of federal and state laws and regulations, and an overview of how coal ash can be beneficially used.