Sep 14, 2009
Defenders of Wildlife, the Sierra Club and the Environmental Integrity Project today put the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on notice of their intent to file a lawsuit for the agency being 26 years late in setting limits on coal power plant toxic discharges. The agency’s data shows that coal plants discharge millions of pounds of toxic pollutants like arsenic, mercury, selenium and lead each year. Yet the existing federal rules, which have not been revised since 1982, fail to set any limits on these metals discharges, which can leach into local water supplies, as well as contaminate local waterways.
Toxic metal discharges from coal plants pose a serious threat to public health and the environment, which is why the Clean Water Act requires EPA to complete a review of the federal rules for power plant discharges each year, and revise the rules to meet the requirements of the Act when appropriate. Despite recognizing a “relatively high estimate of potential hazard or risk” the EPA has continued to do no more than “study” the discharges for 15 years. No new rules have been proposed by EPA to date.
UPDATE: EPA ANNOUNCES IT WILL REVISE RULES FOR POWER PLANT DISCHARGES. “The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency plans to revise the existing standards for water discharges from coal-fired power plants to reduce pollution and better protect America’s water. Wastewater discharged from coal ash ponds, air pollution control equipment, and other equipment at power plants can contaminate drinking water sources, cause fish and other wildlife to die and create other detrimental environmental effects.” For the complete press release, click here.
Jennifer Peterson, EIP attorney said: “EPA’s plan to finally limit toxic discharges from power plants is great news. It is also good to hear EPA acknowledge that these toxic pollutants ‘can contaminate drinking water sources, cause fish and other wildlife to die and create other detrimental environmental effects.’ But these rules are nearly 30 years overdue, and we need a deadline for regulation. That is what our lawsuit is about.”