May 2, 2013 10:33 pm

EPA to Clamp Down on Power Plant Discharges…We Think

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Waste water discharge from the Labadie Power Plant ash pond(s). Picture taken from MO DNR site visit September 27, 2011 report

Friday April 19th the EPA announced its proposed rule aimed at reducing coal and nuclear power plant waste water discharges to rivers and streams.  The announcement was welcomed by those of us concerned by coal-fired plant waste water being discharged by the millions of gallons into our nation’s major rivers as unlined pits in floodplains leaking into surrounding communities and groundwater.  This dirty water contains heavy metals and plant chemicals. At the Labadie Ameren Power Plant, the volumes of coal waste water is on the order of 30 million gallons per day + leaking directly form the unlined ash pond on site. The announcement of the new rule was not unexpected, given the EPA was under court order to produce the proposed rule. What was surprising was that they offered 4 options, one be zero discharge (total recycling of waste). The agency estimates that the regulations would cut pollution by between 470 million to 2.62 billion pound annually and reduce water usage by 50 billion to 103 billion gallons per year.

Coal ash proponents saw the announcements and a comment in the lengthy document released to suggest that the EPA will come out with a Subtitle D regulation on Coal Combustion Wastes. More specifically, they were quoted as saying the RCRA Subtitle D “would be adequate.” Unfortunately, this is not true because under Subtitle D, legacy ash sites would persist and put drinking water and communities at risk.

The public comment period on the proposed rule will be open for 60 days after publication in the Federal Register. The agency is under a consent decree to take final action by May 22, 2014.
According to the EPA press release, “nder the proposed approach, new requirements for existing power plants would be phased in between 2017 and 2022, and would leverage flexibilities as necessary.”

More information:
http://water.epa.gov/scitech/wastetech/guide/steam-electric/index.cfm

So what do we know? EPA, under court order, finally moved forward to propose 4 options on managing coal waste water discharges. When can we comment? When will docket be open? When will the docket close? Questions I do not have the answer to yet…, but will. Will let our supporters know precisely how to log your comments and will let you know how LEO participates in the process to protect our community as the EPA moves forward on both the effluent discharge rule and the coal ash rule.

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