- WEB EXCLUSIVE
- PE COFFEEHAUS
Once the new rule for electric power plants is finalized, the EPA and states would incorporate the new standards into wastewater discharge permits, the release said.
The agency noted that some of the equipment used to clean air emissions does so by "scrubbing" the boiler exhaust with water, and when the water is not properly managed it sends the pollution to rivers and other water bodies. 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 said.
Earlier this year, the agency completed a multi-year study of power plant wastewater discharges and concluded that 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.
As part of the multi-year study, the EPA measured the pollutants present in wastewater and reviewed treatment technologies, focusing mostly on coal-fired power plants. Many of the toxic pollutants discharged from these power plants came from coal ash ponds and the flue gas desulfurization systems used to scrub sulfur dioxide from air emissions, the release noted.
More information about EPA's study is provided in an interim report published in August 2008. A final study will be published later this year.