The Northern Indiana Public Service Co. announced that it delayed work to close five coal ash ponds at its Michigan City Generating Station until spring 2021.
NIPSCO said the delay would let it to advance community improvement projects like electric and gas system modernization across northern Indiana while still allowing the company to complete the pond retirements by its 2023 deadline.
The company began the procedures to close the coal ash ponds in 2015. It has submitted several drafts of the closure plan to the Indiana Department of Environmental Management.
Residents living near the Michigan City Generating Station said they were concerned about the plant’s pollution and NIPSCO’s proposed plan, which involves digging out hundreds of tons of toxic coal ash from the ponds and transporting them to a lined landfill in Jasper County owned by the company.
The residents and environmental groups, including the La Porte branch of the NAACP, Just Transition NWI, the Hoosier Environmental Council, Save the Dunes and Earthjustice, argued for and received an extension for public comments to the plan, which ended June 22.
The coalition of groups also submitted a petition signed by more than 3,000 people urging the company to, among other things, delay excavation to avoid creating particulate air pollution that could “exacerbate” COVID-19 disease and other potential health risks.
The coalition has also received support from several municipal governments like the Town of Pines council, which signed a resolution making several closure plan recommendations and requests to NIPSCO.
The groups said they would continue to call on NIPSCO to add more public safeguards in its closure plan.