Allan Porter’s house already shakes during blasting at a nearby strip mine owned by Peabody Arclar Mining.
Then there’s the dust that frequently covers his home and farmland, he said.
What worries him, and many others, is what is going to happen if the company is allowed to break ground on an extension of its operations up to 300 feet from some people’s homes, including Porter’s.
“I’d come home a lot of days and our front porch would be covered in that yellow dust. The first year they started blasting, that dust just covered us up,” Porter said.
Porter is running for the Saline County Board next spring in hopes of being in a stronger position to halt the mine, he said.
His home, and several others, is off Old Illinois 13, just south of the existing Cottage Grove strip mine near Southeastern Illinois College. The proposed mining area is south of the existing mine as well as Illinois 13. The area now is primarily farmland and some homes.
The company filed an application in September with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources seeking a five-year permit for a 1,019-acre mine it is calling the Rocky Branch Mine. The application acknowledges the site would be as close as 300 feet to some dwellings.
About 50 people attended an IDNR public hearing earlier this month to submit comment on the permit, many opposed to the mine for a myriad of reasons including road closures, the impact on endangered species and Native American artifacts, destruction of property and a devalued tax base.
The IDNR comment period ended Monday, but hearings to be held by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency are anticipated.
A Peabody spokesperson could not be reached for comment.
Residents will be forced to move from their homes, said Cottage Township Trustee Judy Kellen, who also lives in the area of the proposed mining site.
“They’re going to be destroying our houses, we’re going to have to get out, and they’re going to be walking away with millions,” said Judy Kellen, a Cottage Township trustee. “We’re the endangered species.”
Road closures are a concern because doing so would limit people’s access to Illinois 13 and would ensnare people in the event of flooding, Kellen said.
The township, she said, is opposing the road closures, which includes portions of Old Illinois 13, Rocky Branch Road and Carnahan Road. The September permit application indicates agreements with the Cottage Township Road Authority for temporary road closures are pending.
Rita Karnes, another resident of the area who sells produce, said people are also upset because they are unable to get their questions answered and seem stymied by officials when attempting to submit what they say is evidence of damage from mining operations, including photographs.
“They’re denying anything we say. No matter how much proof we’ve got, they are not listening to us,” she said.
Several other organizations have also stepped in including the Illinois Chapter of the Sierra Club and the Prairie Rivers Network to ensure environmental and wildlife protection statutes are complied with.