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EPA extends deadline for comments on effluent guidelines


July 5, 2013

By Jeannine Anderson
Editor
The Environmental Protection Agency has extended its deadline for comments from regulated parties, environmentalists and state agencies regarding effluent limitation guideline revisions (ELG) for power plants. The agency is allowing an extra 45 days, until Sept. 20, 2013. Many, including APPA, had asked for an extension. The original deadline was Aug. 6.

APPA is pleased about the extension, said the association's environmental services director, Theresa Pugh, in a message posted on APPA's discussion forum, The Hub.

The EPA will publish a notice in the Federal Register announcing the extension. For instructions on submitting comments, see the agency's June 7 Federal Register notice.

When it released its proposal on effluents earlier this year, the EPA said the rule would "help reduce dangerous pollutants, including mercury, arsenic, lead, and selenium that are released into America’s waterways by coal ash, air pollution control waste and other waste from steam electric power plants."

Steam electric power plants currently account for more than half of all toxic pollutants discharged into streams, rivers and lakes from industrial facilities in the United States, the agency said. "High exposure to these types of pollutants has been linked to neurological damage and cancer as well as damage to the circulatory system, kidneys and liver," the EPA said. More than 23,000 miles of rivers and streams are damaged by steam electric plant discharges, which also include boron, cadmium, chromium, nickel, thallium, vanadium, zinc, nitrogen, chlorides, bromides, iron, copper and aluminum, according to the agency.

There are approximately 1,200 steam electric power plants that generate electricity using nuclear fuel or fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and natural gas in the United States. Approximately 500 of these power plants are coal-fired units, "which are the primary source of the pollutants being addressed by the proposed regulation," the EPA said. The proposed rule also covers nuclear power plants.

Power plants that are smaller than 50 megawatts will not be impacted by the new effluent standards, and the majority of coal-fired power plants will incur no costs under the proposed standards, the EPA said.

The EPA has not postponed a public hearing on its proposed pretreatment standards. The hearing will take place on July 9 at 1 p.m. in the EPA East Building, Room 1153, 1201 Constitution Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. No registration is required for the hearing, but anyone who wishes to speak is asked to let the EPA know by sending an email  to steamelectric-elg@epa.gov

The agency is under a consent decree to take final action by May 22, 2014.

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