Canoeist looking at erosion on a riverbank

Riverbank near coal ash ponds found unstable

Environmentalists and community members in Vermilion County have expressed deep concern over the pollution from toxic chemicals seeping from large coal ash ponds into the Middle Fork River in Vermilion County. But engineering experts warn there may be a greater risk posed by the collapse of the riverbank holding back more than 600 million of gallons of toxic coal ash.

A 2017 engineering study paid for by Dynegy Corp., the previous owner of the site, shows that the river is rapidly undermining the riverbanks near the ash ponds. The company has made a least two attempts to harden the riverbank against further erosion, but the banks remain unstable.

The study was obtained through an Freedom of Information Act request by the Eco-Justice Collaborative, a non-profit environmental group in Champaign, that has shared it with news outlets.

Since the report, the riverbank has continued to erode, according to environmentalists, community leaders and Dynegy itself.

a river running next to a coal power plant and its coal ash ponds

Loose regulations allow coal ash to threaten river

Each year thousands of families boat down the Middle Fork branch of the Illinois Vermilion River below an embankment that holds back 3.3 million cubic yards of toxic coal ash sludge stored in three large ponds. Coal ash pollution is leaching into the river, and the riverbank is eroding under the ponds. We examine what’s a stake in this investigative report.

Friend and supporter of CU-CitizenAccess.org passes away

Foreman, 65, was instrumental in the creation of CU-CitizenAccess.org, persuading the Marajen Stevick Foundation to fund the online newsroom with $50,000 that was matched with $100,000 by the James L. and John S. Knight Foundation community news grant.

Illinois Newsroom series finds gun violence is an issue downstate

Gun violence is an issue that extends far beyond the Chicago area in Illinois.

At least 100 people died from gunfire over the past three years and at least 500 were wounded, according to data obtained from a sample of police departments of eight cities in downstate Illinois.

How to stop gun violence? Just ask

Like Peoria and Champaign before it, Springfield is the latest IL city to adopt a national model for a community-wide approach to reducing gun violence. Brian Mackey explains what it looks like, and whether it’s shown success elsewhere.

‘Down The Hill:’ Violence Often Rooted In Inequality

In one neighborhood in Peoria, two families touched by violence are making difficult decisions for themselves and their communities. Cass Herrington reports on their ongoing efforts to reclaim their neighborhood.