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EPA wants to suspend compliance dates for steam electric power plants

Delays will apply to BAT requirements for certain wastestreams

Posted May 31, 2017

On May 25, EPA head Scott Pruitt signed a proposed rule to delay the compliance dates for the effluent limitations guidelines and standards for steam electric power plants, known as the ELG Rule.

In April, EPA determined that two administrative petitions asking it to reconsider the November 2015 ELG Rule raised “issues sufficient to warrant reconsideration of the rule.”

The guidelines and standards, found at 40 CFR 423, cover wastewater discharges from power plants operating as utilities. The regulations are incorporated into a facility’s wastewater permit. Steam electric power plants use nuclear or fossil fuels to heat water in boilers, which creates steam. The steam drives turbines connected to electric generators. Plants may discharge wastewater with thermal or chemical pollutants from their water treatment, power cycle, ash handling, and air pollution control systems. In addition, they may have runoff from coal piles, yard and floor drainage, and other waste.

Pruitt says the action, if finalized will “provide relief from the deadlines.” The compliance dates would be postponed until EPA completes its reconsideration of the 2015 rule.

The agency wants to postpone the compliance dates for meeting “best available technology economically available (BAT)” requirements for the following wastestreams:

  • Fly ash transport water,
  • Bottom ash transport water,
  • Flue gas desulfurization wastewater,
  • Flu gas mercury control wastewater, and
  • Gasification wastewater.

Comments can be made for 30 days after the proposed rule is published in the Federal Register. To provide input to EPA, use Docket ID # EPA-HQ-OW-2009-0819 at the Federal eRulemaking Portal.

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