US powerplant water emission rules to be tightened, say environmentalists

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is to tighten up on water emissions from powerplants, according to a press release from a collection of US environmental groups.

The groups claim that EPA will issue new rules, which would protect waterways from millions of pounds of heavy metals and other toxic pollutants, by 23 July 2012, with final rules due by 31 January 2014.

The Environmental Integrity Project (EIP), established by ex-EPA enforcement attorneys, and Earthjustice, representing Defenders of Wildlife and the Sierra Club, told EPA last year that the new clean water rules were decades overdue, leaving the US public exposed to heavy metals like arsenic, lead, chromium and mercury.

EIP attorney Jennifer Peterson said: “These rules were supposed to have been written nearly 30 years ago — they are not new requirements. Wastewater treatment is affordable, and our waterways are not a dumping ground for toxic waste from coal-fired power plants. We appreciate EPA’s commitment to get these long-overdue rules back on track.”

The Clean Water Act requires state agencies to set stringent limits on the discharge of pollutants from power plants on a case-by-case basis — a requirement that states historically have ignored, say the groups.

EPA has not issued a press release on the subject of powerplant water pollution in the past decade, despite several on air pollution.