Environment & Weather
Governor Quinn Announces Emergency Rules to Protect Illinois Residents from Petcoke PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Grant Klinzman   
Tuesday, 14 January 2014 10:11

Rules Will Require Total Enclosure of Petcoke Piles and Other Environmental Protections

CHICAGO – Governor Pat Quinn today announced emergency administrative rules designed to protect Illinois residents from petroleum coke (petcoke). Under the Governor’s order, the rules will be filed later this week as part of his agenda to protect Illinois’ natural resources and ensure a clean and healthy environment for future generations.

“No one should have to eat, sleep or work with harmful dust blowing into their community,” Governor Quinn said. “No matter who you are or where you live, everyone has a right to a healthy environment. These rules will make sure that no one in Illinois has to worry about petroleum coke.”

Through its authority under the Illinois Environmental Protection Act, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) will submit administrative rules to the Illinois Pollution Control Board (IPCB) that would set statewide standards for any facility that manages or stores petcoke or related materials. Chief among these will be a requirement for total enclosure of petcoke during its transport, processing and storage.

The IEPA has been working with federal, state and local officials since being approached by community residents with concerns about petcoke dust blowing into their homes causing discomfort and potentially serious health issues. The IEPA has referred numerous allegations of state environmental regulation violations to Attorney General Lisa Madigan. The Attorney General, in cooperation with the city of Chicago, has filed lawsuits against two petcoke companies. The IEPA has halted permit activity for petcoke operations pending a review of their impacts on air, land and water.

“At Governor Quinn’s direction, we will continue to do everything necessary to ensure that Illinois does not become a dumping ground for petroleum coke,” IEPA Director Lisa Bonnett said. “After seeing the piles firsthand and how they are affecting this community, it’s clear that strong action is necessary. We are committed to continuing the cooperative efforts at the federal, state and local level to address this issue.”

The rules will take effect on an emergency basis upon filing with the Secretary of State later this week. This action triggers a series of actions to be taken by the IPCB, which include a required three-step notice process that incorporates public testimony and hearings as well as legal and economic impacts before official and permanent adoption. Major timelines and provisions that would be effective upon official adoption include:

·         Within five days, a facility must install equipment to monitor wind speed.

·         Within 30 days, a facility must install dust suppression systems along conveyor systems and any piles that are not totally enclosed.

·         Within 30 days, a facility must submit applications for necessary permits and a comprehensive wastewater and stormwater runoff plan to IEPA that ensures that runoff that has come into contact with the piles is prevented from entering the waters of the state and complete it within 60 days of approval.

·         Within 45 days, a facility must submit a plan to IEPA for total enclosure of all coke and coal piles, transfer points, loading and unloading areas, screening areas, crushing and sizing areas to be completed within two years of these rules being adopted. Enclosure structures must be equipped with air pollution systems at all vents and entrances and exits for material and vehicles as well as an impermeable base to guard against ground seepage.

·         Within 45 days, a facility must submit a plan to IEPA to minimize the impact of truck traffic on residential areas near the source. All petcoke loading and transport must be done in vehicles sufficiently covered to guard against fugitive dust emissions.

·         With 45 days, a facility must submit a plan to IEPA for coke and coal fugitive dust that must adhere to requirements in the Illinois Environmental Protection Act and must be updated at least semi-annually or within 30 days of a major equipment or control change.

·         Within 60 days, a facility must remove all petcoke and coal that has been at the source for more than one year.

·         Within 60 days, a facility must locate any piles, loading operations, transfer or emission points that are not totally enclosed to at least 200 feet inside the property line of the source, a minimum of 200 feet from all waters of the United States, all public water supply reservoirs and intakes and all potable wells and onto impenetrable bases or pads.

·         Within 60 days, no pile may exceed 30 feet in height. Visible height markers must also be installed.

·         A least once per calendar week, a facility must measure moisture content of representative samples and adjust dust suppression measures so as to meet certain standards and inspect all dust suppression equipment so as to ensure adequate operations.

·         At least monthly, a facility must certify the operation of all dust suppression systems at all times during the processing of coal and coke and submit records to IEPA showing the types and quantities of materials delivered to and transported from the source, and data reflecting cleaning, street-sweeping and equipment maintenance frequency.

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Governor Quinn Reminds People to Stay Alert for Flooding and Ice PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Grant Klinzman   
Monday, 13 January 2014 10:47

Rainfall and Melting Snow Could Combine to Cause Hazardous Flooding

CHICAGO – Governor Pat Quinn today reminded people throughout Illinois to stay alert for flood hazards caused by melting snow and rain. In addition, low overnight temperatures could freeze puddles and other wet areas to create dangerous slick spots on roads and sidewalks.

“Everyone should be cautious and look out for slick or flooded roads and sidewalks this weekend,” Governor Quinn said. “The melting snow and rainfall, combined with the frozen ground, is a recipe for flooding in many areas. Please travel safely, avoid standing water and watch out for ice.”

The increasing temperatures are melting ice on rivers and streams, which could cause ice jams in some areas. People living near rivers and streams are advised to watch the local forecast and to be prepared to follow instructions from local officials in the event of a flood emergency.

If drivers encounter water over a roadway, the National Weather Service advises them to “Turn Around, Don’t Drown” (TADD). Many people have been hurt driving over flooded roads that are deceptively deep. The speed and depth of the water is not always obvious and a hidden portion of the road may have been washed out. As little as two feet of water can carry away most vehicles, with drivers having little control over their destination.

The Illinois Department of Transportation and the Illinois Tollway are deploying additional maintenance crews to help clear storm drains to allow any water covering sections of pavement to subside. Patrols will continue until the rain ends. Drivers should dial *999 from a cell phone for assistance if their vehicles become disabled or to report other stranded cars.

For more information about flood safety, visit the Ready Illinois website at Ready.Illinois.gov.

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Governor Quinn Thanks Emergency Crews and Personnel for Winter Storm Response PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Brooke Anderson   
Monday, 13 January 2014 10:15

Heroic Rescue Stories Emerge; Thousands Worked Around the Clock to Keep Illinois Residents Safe During Winter Blast

CHICAGO – Governor Pat Quinn today thanked the emergency workers who provided around-the-clock assistance during this week’s historic winter storm and freeze. Since last week, thousands of state employees worked tirelessly to clear Illinois roads, rescue stranded motorists and keep people safe. During the storm, many heroic rescue stories surfaced and the Governor thanked workers who made the state’s effective storm response possible.

"When disaster strikes the heartland, Illinois’ first responders are on the job to keep people safe,” Governor Quinn said. “Illinois is a community of shared values. I want to recognize and thank our response and emergency personnel who have been working day and night to assist those in need during this remarkable storm.”

“People across our state stepped up to help, from those driving the salt and plow trucks at all hours of the night to keep interstates safe to our neighbors who checked on their neighbors during extremely low temperatures,” the Governor said. “This was an amazing effort during an amazing winter storm.”

The Governor monitored weather conditions hour-by-hour and directed the state’s agencies to take a number of steps in response to the heavy snow and severe cold gripping Illinois. On Sunday, the Governor activated the State Emergency Operations Center in Springfield to coordinate the state’s response to the storm. Representatives from critical safety agencies staffed the center 24 hours a day throughout the duration of the storm and dangerously low temperatures. As a dangerous combination of black ice and snow drifts developed overnight, Governor Quinn issued a statewide disaster declaration, which activated the state's emergency operations plan and allowed him to activate the Illinois National Guard to assist state and local emergency responders. As conditions continued to worsen, the Governor implemented the State’s Continuity of Operations/Continuity of Government Plans to ensure continued delivery of critical state response services during the severe winter weather conditions while protecting the state’s workforce.

Several state agencies were at the forefront of the state’s storm response, and individual stories of heroism emerged during the days they protected and served the citizens of Illinois.

Department of Transportation

The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) had 1,755 trucks assigned to snow duty across the state, and nearly 3,700 full-time and part-time employees available to help ensure roads were clear and passable. Statewide, IDOT and Tollway crews dispersed more than of 70,000 tons of salt on Illinois roadways during the weather emergency.

IDOT cleared the way for an ambulance that was transporting a woman experiencing a difficult child birth in Stark County. The Stark County Sheriff's Department contacted IDOT and informed them that there was a woman having a difficult labor in Wyoming, Ill., and the ambulance needed a snowplow to try to escort them to the hospital in Kewanee. The IDOT snow shift foreman from the Stark County maintenance yard in Wyoming informed responders that the best route for the ambulance would be to take Route 17 to Route 78, arriving at the hospital in Kewanee. IDOT Districts 2 and 4 then worked to get the needed snow plows to the area so the ambulance would have a clear path. The baby boy, Subal Patel – 6 pounds 7 ounces and 22 inches long – arrived shortly after the ambulance reached the hospital in Kewanee. Mother Parul Patel, proud father Chad Patel, and little Subal are all doing fine.

Tollway

The Illinois Tollway deployed its full fleet of 182 snowplows and called in more than 400 employees to keep its 286 miles of roadway clear. The Tollway deployed 11 H.E.L.P.  trucks and 22 Zero Weather Road Patrols operating around the clock during the extreme cold that followed the snowfall. Tollway employees and Illinois State Police District 15 provided emergency assistance to 1,099 customers across the system. The *999 Cellular Express Line System handled 1,869 calls from customers during the snowstorm and extreme freeze.

In addition to salt, the Tollway used 1,293 tons of roadway abrasives and sprayed 1,900 gallons of liquid Calcium Chloride. There were 275 accidents reported on the Tollway system during the severe weather. At the storm’s peak, the Central Dispatch Center was handling more than 75 incidents simultaneously involving both Illinois State Police District 15 and Tollway maintenance crews.

Ed Robinson, a Tollway H.E.L.P. truck operator on the Tri-State Tollway in Lake County stopped Tuesday night to help two customers whose car broke down as they were driving to O’Hare Airport, leaving them without heat in the extreme cold.  After arranging to have the vehicle towed to an auto repair shop, they learned the car could not be repaired that night because the shop was busy and getting ready to close, leaving them stranded. After learning about the new trouble, Robinson met the couple on his own time after his shift ended and installed an alternator in the car so they could complete their trip to O’Hare safely. Afterward, he told his supervisor that he wanted to help the couple and ensure their safety, and hoped that someone would do the same for his kids.

State Police

Statewide, from Sunday to Tuesday, the Illinois State Police responded to more than 6,000 thousands of incidents including 3,932 motorist assists, 792 crashes and 534 traffic stops. All available personnel, including SWAT team members and Crime Scene Services, worked to make the roads safer and respond to emergencies.

The ISP organized a multi-agency “Rescue Task Force” in Livingston County late Sunday night when several motorists became stranded on Route 116 and road conditions prevented emergency responders from reaching them. At about 10 p.m. Cecilia Zroegaert and Steven Zroegaert became stuck in a ditch three miles west of Saunemin. Several other motorists were also stuck on Route 116 due to heavy snow and white-out conditions. State Police District 6 was notified of the stranded motorists and quickly deployed the "Rescue Task Force" that included two Department of Transportation snow plows, two tow trucks, and a State Police SWAT operator driving a four-wheel-drive vehicle. Starting from Pontiac and led by a District 6 Sergeant in a patrol car, the task force had to clear more than nine miles of Route 116 in order to reach the stranded motorists.

Temperatures continued to drop and progress was slow as the rescue team encountered large snow drifts rapidly accumulating from the high winds. At about 11 p.m. the rescue team reached a section of highway covered by snow drifts more than six feet tall that prevented the plows and emergency equipment from moving any further. The Saunemin Fire Department’s attempt to rescue the motorists from the opposite direction on Route 116 was blocked by abandoned vehicles left on the highway.

State Police Sergeant Tim Sweeney and Trooper David Diller worked diligently to find a local resource to assist. About 11:30 p.m. they located a citizen from Saunemin, Matthew Harms, who set out to rescue the motorists using his snowmobile. By this time the Zroegaerts’ vehicle was low on fuel and no longer able to provide heat; the rescuers told the Zroegaerts by cell phone to honk their horn every few minutes to help Harms locate them. Harms finally located the Zroegaerts shortly after midnight and drove them to safety. Harms then checked every stranded vehicle in the area to ensure no others needed assistance.

The rescue task force was finally able to clear Route 116 to Saunemin at about 1:30 a.m. Monday.

Department of Natural Resources

A total of 58 Conservation Police Officers from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) equipped with four-wheel-drive vehicles and eight snowmobiles, performed 500 public assists, including motorist assistance, welfare checks and relays during the winter weather emergency.

Conservation Police Officer Robert Wellum carried a five gallon can of gasoline on foot nearly one mile in 20 degrees below zero wind chills to a family in Clark County whose emergency generator had run out of fuel. On Monday, Jan. 6 at 11 a.m. a 911 call was made by a family of four, including two small children, stranded in their home in rural Clark County. They had run out of gas to power their generator and the home was without power and heat. Officer Wellum went to nearby gas station to fill up a five gallon gas can using his own money, then drove as close as possible to the home, but snow drifts had made roads impassable. Wellum got out of his truck and walked one mile to the family’s home while carrying the can of gas, and he arrived just in time – the temperature in the home was at 52 degrees and rapidly dropping.

Conservation Police Officer Trent Reeves rescued seven people and two pets that were trapped by snow drifts along Route 47 north of Mahomet. Emergency vehicles could not reach the people, so Officer Reeves traveled by snowmobile and on foot to rescue the stranded individuals and deliver them to nearby emergency vehicles. All of those rescued, including the pets, are fine. Officer Jim Mayes assisted with the rescue, and himself used his truck to rescue six individuals who were stranded on Interstate 74 in east central Illinois.

National Guard

More than 30 Illinois Army National Guard mechanics were activated to support the winter storm efforts by assisting IDOT with truck repair and maintenance of winter storm equipment degraded by the events over the last week. On Jan. 6 Governor Quinn activated two soldiers and a heavy-duty military wrecker to help  IDOT and State Police pull three civilian vehicles and five semi tractor-trailers out of the snow and line of traffic.

Personnel from the Illinois National Guard field maintenance shop in Mattoon coordinated with Illinois State Police troopers and Illinois Department of Transportation snow plow crews to assist motorists in approximately 375 vehicles backed up on I-70 and I-57 north of Effingham Sunday evening. The backup was the result of several vehicles and semi-trucks that were stuck in snow drifts, making it impossible for snow plows to clear the route for the cars to proceed. Illinois National Guard personnel used a wrecker to pull the stranded vehicles and trucks from the road, which allowed IDOT crews to clear the road and rescue hundreds of passengers.

National Guard soldiers were also on hand to ensure that IDOT vehicles were fully operational and capable of handling the intense cold and snow which could affect all vehicles on Illinois roads.

"The snow storm and extreme temperatures has an effect on vehicles and personnel, and the man-power we have is not able to keep up with repairs," James McKay, an engineer technician with IDOT Emergency Traffic Patrol (ETP) in Chicago, said of conditions before the National Guard arrived. "With the over whelming amount or repairs our maintenance division has right now, help is definitely needed. You are coming to our rescue, you're putting our fleet back into operating condition, and we are very thankful."

"The Soldiers are great. They showed up early, had their A-game on, and were ready to work," Joseph Lonero, an equipment expeditor with IDOT ETP in Chicago, said. "We have over 100 vehicles district wide that need repairs, we will keep them busy and we are thankful for the help."

Department of Human Services

During the storm, the Governor opened and encouraged residents to find shelter in the state’s more than 100 warming centers, including Illinois Department of Human Services offices throughout the state, and the seven Illinois Tollway Oases. Hundreds of individuals took advantage of the warming centers over the course of the storm.

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Governor Quinn Provides Statewide Update on Response to Historic Winter Storm PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Grant Klinzman   
Tuesday, 07 January 2014 08:32

Critical State Services Continue; Illinois National Guard Activated to Join Other State Emergency Responders

CHICAGO – Governor Pat Quinn today was joined by key state emergency officials to provide a comprehensive update on the state's response to the historic winter storm and freeze. As all critical and emergency state services continue, the Governor has also activated the Illinois National Guard to help emergency crews across the state provide assistance during the bitter cold and dangerous weather conditions, which have included a hazardous combination of black ice and snow drifts.

Since last week, the state has deployed nearly 3,700 employees and 1,755 trucks from the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) statewide to address the winter weather on state routes, and 200 staff and 182 snow plows from the Illinois Tollway. The Tollway has doubled the number of Zero Weather Road Patrols to assist customers stranded in their cars during the severe weather. Additionally, Conservation Police Officers in snowmobiles, all-terrain vehicles and four-wheel-drive trucks are assisting stranded motorists throughout the state and helping find missing persons.

"The state of Illinois has mobilized all resources to keep residents safe while continuing to provide critical state services,” Governor Quinn said. “We are facing a dangerous combination of low temperatures, black ice and snow drifts.”

“I want to recognize the heroism of our state’s first-responders and emergency personnel who have been working throughout the night and day to rescue motorists and provide critical services and assistance in some of the most difficult conditions imaginable,” the Governor said.

Update

The Governor has been monitoring weather conditions hour by hour and has directed the state’s agencies to take a number of steps in response to the heavy snow and severe cold gripping Illinois.

Yesterday, the Governor activated the State Emergency Operations Center in Springfield to coordinate the state’s response to the storm. Representatives from critical safety agencies are staffing the center 24 hours a day throughout the duration of the storm and dangerously low temperatures. As a dangerous combination of black ice and snow drifts developed overnight, Governor Quinn issued a statewide disaster declaration, which activates the state's emergency operations plan and allowed him to activate the Illinois National Guard to help state and local emergency responders with an increasing volume of calls for assistance. As conditions continued to worsen, the Governor implemented the State’s Continuity of Operations/Continuity of Government Plans earlier this morning to ensure continued delivery of critical state response services during the severe winter weather conditions while protecting the state’s workforce.

The Governor has also opened the state’s more than 100 warming centers, including Illinois Department of Human Services offices throughout the state, which are open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., or the Illinois Tollway Oases, which are open 24 hours a day. To find a warming center, call (800) 843-6154 or visit keepwarm.illinois.gov.

Heroic Emergency Responders

Stories of heroism by rescuers continue to emerge as emergency responders work around the clock to assist those impacted by the extreme weather.

Personnel from the Illinois National Guard field maintenance shop in Mattoon coordinated with Illinois State Police troopers and Illinois Department of Transportation snow plow crews to assist motorists in approximately 375 vehicles backed up on I-70 and I-57 north of Effingham Sunday evening. The backup was the result of several vehicles and semi-trucks that were stuck in snow drifts, making it impossible for snow plows to clear the route for the cars to proceed. Illinois National Guard personnel used a wrecker to pull the stranded vehicles and trucks from the road, which allowed IDOT crews to clear the road and rescue hundreds of passengers.

"The men and women of the Illinois National Guard are again demonstrating their commitment to the safety and security of Illinois citizens," Brig. Gen. Daniel M. Krumrei, the Adjutant General of the Illinois National Guard, said. "We train extensively throughout the year to be ready and on the scene to help our neighbors at a moment's notice.  Within two hours of activation, our Soldiers navigated dangerous road conditions in sub-zero temperatures to rescue stranded motorists."

Conservation Police Officer Trent Reeves rescued seven people and two pets that were trapped by snow drifts along Route 47 north of Mahomet. Emergency vehicles could not reach the people, so Officer Reeves traveled by snowmobile and on foot to rescue the stranded individuals and deliver them to nearby emergency vehicles. All of those rescued, including the pets, are fine. Officer Jim Mayes assisted with the rescue, and himself used his truck to rescue six individuals who were stranded on Interstate 74 in east central Illinois.

State officials are advising people to stay safe and take the proper precautions during this weather emergency.

“With the freezing temperatures, black ice is a major concern,” Illinois Transportation Secretary Ann L. Schneider said. “Black ice forms on roads that appear clear and the unseen ice can be treacherous. We encourage motorists, if they must travel, to take it slow when approaching intersections, off-ramps, bridges and shady areas – all are prone to black ice. Motorists should use extreme caution, buckle up, avoid distractions and check www.gettingaroundillinois.com for the latest winter road conditions and road closures.”

“If you must drive in these dangerous conditions, be sure to stock your vehicle with emergency supplies, such as bottled water, snack foods, a flashlight, blankets, extra warm clothing, gloves, boots and other winter weather items,” Illinois Emergency Management Agency Director Jonathon Monken said. “You need to be ready to stay safe and warm if you are stranded along the road for several hours, which is a very real possibility during the current weather conditions.”

“Facing such extreme conditions, the Tollway is urging its customers to avoid driving if at all possible,” Illinois Tollway Executive Director Kristi Lafleur said. “For those who must travel, we are asking that you take proper precautions for dangerously cold temperatures and allow extra time for your trips.”

The Illinois Department of Public Health and the Office of the Illinois State Fire Marshal caution residents about the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon monoxide is produced whenever fuel such as gas, oil, kerosene, wood or charcoal is burned.  If appliances are not working properly or are used incorrectly, dangerous levels of carbon monoxide can result. Symptoms may resemble winter flu or food poisoning, particularly in children, and include headaches, dizziness, nausea, and lethargy. Higher levels of exposure can cause fainting, marked confusion and collapse. If exposure continues, death can result. If your carbon monoxide detector alarm sounds, call 911 and leave the area immediately. Affected individuals should be led to fresh air.

To prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, do not use a gas oven to heat your home, even for a short time; do not burn anything in a stove or fireplace that is not vented; do not use gasoline-powered engines in your house, garage or other enclosed spaces; and do not use a charcoal grill, camping stove or Sterno-type fuel for cooking indoors, even in a fireplace.

The Department of Public Health also reminds people to reduce the chance of frostbite or hypothermia by staying dry and wearing several layers of lightweight clothing; covering your head; wearing mittens rather than fingered gloves; wearing warm leg coverings and heavy socks or two pairs of lightweight socks; and covering your ears and lower face.

The Illinois Department of Agriculture encourages pet-owners to keep their pets indoors or ensure they have a warm shelter area with unfrozen food and water. To protect people’s pets, they also encourage everyone to use pet-friendly salt when clearing sidewalks and driveways.

More information about Winter Storm Preparedness is available from Ready.Illinois.gov.

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Salvation Army Warming Centers available in Iowa and Illinois PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Holly Nomura   
Monday, 06 January 2014 15:42

Quad Cities, USA: Warming Centers will be open to any community resident needing a place to keep warm while the Quad Cities experiences these extremely low temperatures. The two warming center locations include:

In Illinois: Heritage Temple Corps, 2200 – 5th Avenue, Moline, IL 9am–4pm

In Iowa: Family Service Center, 301 W. 6th Street, Davenport, IA 10am–7pm

Coffee and snacks will be made available.

 
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