EPA finalises effluent limitation standards for steam electric power plants in US

1 October 2015 (Last Updated October 1st, 2015 18:30)

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has finalised Steam Electric Effluent Limitation Guidelines, which are expected to reduce toxic pollutant discharge in the country's waterways from steam electric power plants.

waste water

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has finalised Steam Electric Effluent Limitation Guidelines, which are expected to reduce toxic pollutant discharge in the country’s waterways from steam electric power plants.

In addition to lowering the annual pollutant discharges by 1.4 billion pounds, the new regulation will also cut water withdrawal in the country by 57 billion gallons a year.

Reductions are expected to save $463m a year for US citizens.

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said: "Today, EPA is setting the first national limits to protect public health and reduce toxic pollutants, including mercury, arsenic, lead and selenium released into America’s waterways by steam electric power plants.

"These cost-effective, achievable limits will provide significant protections for our children and communities across the country."

"These cost-effective, achievable limits will provide significant protections for our children and communities across the country, including minority and low-income communities, from exposure to pollutants that can cause neurological damage in children, cancer, and other serious health problems."

The new regulations have been based on readily available technologies that are widely used across the modern power sector, and are in-line with industry initiatives for generating clean energy.

According to the EPA, the US has around 1,080 steam-driven power generation facilities that are responsible for about 30% of the toxic pollutants discharged into streams, rivers and lakes.

About 134 of the plants will be prompted to investment in meeting these new standards; however, the regulations do not apply to oil-fired facilities or those generating less than 50MW of energy.


Image: Steam electric power plants are entailed to reduce toxic pollutants discharge into waterways by 1.4 billion pounds annually. Photo: courtesy of sakhorn38/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net.