EAST ALTON, Ill. – If you heard a loud boom in East Alton, Illinois this morning, that was the sound of the Wood River Power Plant coming down.
The power station was demolished just before 8:05 a.m. Monday.
Spirtas Wrecking Company originally planned to implode three smokestacks and the building, but East Alton Fire Chief Timothy Quigley said the smokestacks won’t be demolished for at least another month.
Police departments from East Alton, Alton, and Wood River joined the Madison County Sheriff’s Department to control traffic.
With the plant coming down, the community is wondering what’s next and will safety be in mind.
“What we were looking for was a community conversation,” said Toni Oplt, spokesperson for Metro East Green Alliance. “We never got an answer. We tried a lot of ways.”
The alliance, a nonprofit aimed at reducing water pollution, wants to hear from the new owner of the plant – St. Louis-based Commercial Liability Partners.
Dynegy Midwest Generation Inc. closed the coal-fired power plant in May 2016. On Sept. 13, 2019, Commercial Liability Partners bought the site.
“What is the impact of the health of the community? And also the health of the environment?” Oplt said. “When someone doesn’t answer you after a while, you begin to wonder why. What, are they hiding something? What don’t they want you to know?”
The owners demolished the primary building of the plant this morning.
“About 8:04 is when the charges went off. And the building came down without any problem at all,” said East Alton Police Chief Darron Carlton. “Even from your helicopter, it shows it’s pretty much right there on the property.”
The Metro East Green Alliance got its hands on one of the initial demolition plans submitted to the EPA.
“That said there will be a public meeting three months before we demo,” said Andrew Rehn, a water resources engineer with Prairies Rivers Network.
Philip Kennedy, director of national operations for Spirtas Wrecking Company, said a meeting was held with local police and fire departments.
“We find out kind of through the grapevine, last week or two weeks ago, they are going to bring the smokestacks in a week,” he said.
Instead, the primary building was imploded Monday morning. The smokestacks have not yet been demolished, but plans in the works.
“They are going to demolish those the same way,” Chief Carlton said. “In probably about four to six weeks.”
The East Alton police chief is confident there is no threat to public health, saying the majority of the dust fell on the property.
The alliance said that could still be a concern. They say the area is a flood plain and coal ash is highly toxic and there’s concern it could seep into the ground water.
Commercial Liability Partners did not respond to requests for comment.
FOX 2’s Bommarito Automotive Group SkyFOX was over the scene of the blasts.