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EPA to implement tighter limits on wastewater pollution from coal power plants

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan said Monday the agency plans to place tighter restrictions on wastewater pollution from coal-fired power plants. File photo by Sarah Silbiger/UPI
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan said Monday the agency plans to place tighter restrictions on wastewater pollution from coal-fired power plants. File photo by Sarah Silbiger/UPI | License Photo

July 26 (UPI) -- The Environmental Protection Agency announced plans Monday to implement more stringent limits on wastewater pollution from coal power plants.

The agency issued a statement it would initiate the rulemaking process to reduce coal-fired power plant pollution that can contain toxic metals including mercury arsenic and selenium.

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"EPA is committed to science-based policy decisions to protect our natural resources and public health," EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan said.

The EPA plans to issue a proposed rule for public comment in the fall of 2022. In the meantime, a 2015 rule setting federal limits on the levels of toxic metals in wastewater that can be discharged from power plants and a 2020 rule revising requirements for flue gas desulfurization wastewater and bottom ash transport water will remain in place.

Steam electric plants use coal, oil, natural gas and other fossil fuels or nuclear reactors to heat water in boilers and generate steam that drives turbines connected to electric generators.

This process produces wastewater in the form of chemical pollutants and thermal pollution as well as coal piles and yard and floor drainage.

Following a review of the 2020 Steam Electric Reconsideration Rule, ordered by President Joe Biden in January, the agency found "opportunities to strengthen certain wastewater pollution discharge limits" including implementing treatment systems that use membranes.

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