FirstEnergy Asks to Exceed Mercury Limits in Wastewater Discharges
Although FirstEnergy’s Lake Shore Power Plant in Cleveland meets current pollution standards, it has asked the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to allow the plant to exceed limits on mercury pollution in the lake set by more stringent federal regulations — 1.3 parts per trillion — which takes effect in November, reports Cleveland.com.
That standard is part of the 1995 Great Lakes Initiative, a federal mandate that set strict limits on mercury and other toxins that can be dumped into the Great Lakes and the rivers and streams that drain into them, reports The Columbus Dispatch.
The “variance” permit would allow those amounts to exceed limits set by a federal initiative, reports Cleveland Scene.
FirstEnergy said it would cost at least $10 million to install equipment to reduce mercury discharges from their current average of 2.3 to 2.9 parts per trillion in Lake Erie to the new limits, reports Cleveland.com.
The state is considering a request by FirstEnergy to allow its Lake Shore power plant in Cleveland to dump mercury at 7.1 parts per trillion into Lake Erie, reports The Columbus Dispatch.
Local businesses and environmental groups such as the Sierra Club, Ohio Environmental Council and EarthDay Coalition are opposed to the request, reports Cleveland.com.
The power plant can produce up to nearly 250 megawatts of electricity, and treats and then releases its own wastewater out into the lake, reports Cleveland.com.
Ohio has allowed 42 treatment facilities, power plants and factories to ignore federal limits on dumping mercury into lakes, rivers and streams since 2004, and this year the Ohio EPA is considering more than 30 new requests for variances from companies that say that the cost of keeping mercury out of the water far exceeds any benefits to wildlife and human health, reports The Columbus Dispatch.
The U.S. EPA said it will implement controls on the emissions of hazardous pollutants such as mercury from coal-fired power plants for the first time by November 2011.
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