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ST. LOUIS (AP) - Often criticized as advocating for the coal industry, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources is launching reforms meant to help repair the agency's image and make it more responsive to the public.
 
The changes range from closer inspection of coal-ash ponds to stronger ethics rules and better communication with the public during the coal mine permit process.
 
The moves also come as the agency deals with other embarrassing missteps. Those include a department administrator's departure after reports that he attended professional fishing tournaments while on sick leave. And there were recent revelations that two mine-safety regulators accepted political contributions from a coal-mine operator.
 
Neither environmentalists nor the industry believe the reforms are tied to Gov. Pat Quinn's re-election bid.
 
But the sides disagree over whether the permit-process changes are necessary.
Published in Local News

   Missouri Auditor Tom Schweich says his office will audit the state agency assigned to protect the environment and public health from hazardous waste.  

   The announcement follows reports of problems with oversight at the cleanup of the former Carondelet Coke site in St. Louis.   A St. Louis Post-Dispatch report says that clean up cost taxpayers more than $12 million. while former owners Laclede Gas and SGL Group were paying less than a million dollars combined and Carondelet Coke owner J. Donald Crane was getting off the hook entirely.  The 42 acre site had been considered one of the most contaminated in the state.

   Schweich announced the audit of the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Hazardous Waste Program Friday morning.  State law gives the auditor the authority to audit state agencies and programs.

   Anyone who would like to provide information during the audit process is encouraged to contact the State Auditor's office at 800-347-8597 or by email at moaudit@auditor.mo.gov.

Published in Local News

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - State auditors say the Illinois Department of Natural Resources didn't employ enough mine-safety inspectors the past two years to comply with state law.

 

An Illinois Auditor General's report released Thursday says the department had 10 inspectors for more than 40 mines. The state Coal Mining Act calls for at least 16 inspectors.

 

A spokesman for the department was not immediately available to comment on the audit.

 

Phil Smith is a spokesman for the United Mineworkers of America. He said many of the state and federal agencies responsible for mine safety lack the money to do their jobs.

 

The federal Mine Safety and Health Administration says one miner died on the job in Illinois over those two years. Another miner died this year.

 

Published in Local News
BRIDGETON, Mo. (AP) - State tests show that the odor from the Bridgeton Landfill outside St. Louis is not a health threat.

The Department of Natural Resources on Friday released a summary of recent air sampling results from the landfill. The samples showed "concentrations did not exceed a level of concern for public health." One sample collected near the landfill boundary, however, had a benzene concentration above the level considered safe.

An area deep within the inactive landfill has been smoldering for more than two years, emitting a foul odor that has generated several complaints.

Landfill operator, Phoenix-based Republic Services Inc., says it's spending millions of dollars to address the problem.

An environmental group says more testing is needed.
Published in Local News

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