Consumer Energy Report is now Energy Trends Insider -- Read More »

By Jacob Cohen-Donnelly on Sep 15, 2009 with no responses

EPA Plans on Limiting Metal Discharges From Coal Plants

Tags: Clean Coal, coal, EIP, EPA

This coal ash spill had people up in arms which is leading to the EPA's proposed plan.

It was announced today that the EPA intends on broadening the rules applied to coal-fired power plants to include toxic metal discharge limits. This move would, for the first time, regulate the millions of pounds of arsenic, selenium, mercury, lead, and other pollutants that are released each year – typically, into the waste water ways that are there for this specific purpose. The issue appears because of findings that suggest these metals are seeping into drinking water.

“Current regulations, which were issued in 1982, have not kept pace with changes that have occurred in the electric power industry over the last three decades,” the agency wrote in an announcement.

Traditionally, the EPA only policed the amount of emissions released by the smoke stacks of these coal-fired power plants, but since it’s very easy for the plants to transfer the wastes from the smokestacks to the water, little is being done to aid the environment.

“Treatment technologies are available to remove these pollutants before they are discharged to waterways, but these systems have been installed at only a fraction of the power plants,” the agency went on to say.

According to Federal Law, the EPA can change their rules every year, but has not since 1982 saying that “they are reviewing it.” Now that the reviewing process is complete, they will impose the rule change by 2012 forcing companies to use the technologies readily available to them to clean the water before releasing it.

To speed up the rule-changing process, the Environmental Integrity Project are suing the EPA because of the lack of rules. The EIP stated that if rules were not released within sixty days, they would act on the lawsuit. Although these results are pleasing for the EIP, the want to ensure that the rules get enacted as soon as possible.