EPA Considers Strict New Limits on Coal Ash Discharges from Power Plants

Date: November 18, 2011

Source: News Room

In a recent presentation to state and local government officials, the EPA said it is considering strict discharge limits for certain toxic metals, including arsenic and selenium, and other releases from coal ash storage sites in its pending effluent limitation guidelines (ELG) for power plants. The Clean Water Act (CWA) rulemaking could include measures addressing fly and bottom ash, in addition to leachate discharges from landfills and contaminated wastewater from emissions control technology installed at power plants. Its inclusion of first-time, zero discharge standard for liquid coal ash storage sites would likely force many facilities to shift from storing liquid coal ash to dry storage, thus limiting the likelihood of a future coal ash spill like the one in 2008 at a Tennessee Valley Authority plant in Kingston, TN. Environmental groups see the pending ELG rule as a backup for regulating coal ash in the absence of strict Resource Conservation & Recovery Act (RCRA) hazardous waste rules that EPA has been considering for coal ash disposal, however CWA limits do not address transport, handling and storage requirements that can be regulated under RCRA hazardous waste provisions.

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