Energy

Agency considers further delay on Ohio River mercury rule

Firesign / Creative Commons The Ohio River near New Richmond, Ohio, with the coal-fired Zimmer Power Station in the background.

Firesign / Creative Commons
The Ohio River near New Richmond, Ohio, with the coal-fired Zimmer Power Station in the background.

NEW RICHMOND — “A 12-year extension allowing power plants and other industrial polluters to exceed mercury standards as wastewater enters the Ohio River could be stretched out even further, if a proposal before an interstate regulatory board is approved.

The question before the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission (ORSANCO) is whether dischargers should continue to be allowed to use ‘mixing zones’ for high levels of mercury that will be diluted downstream to levels meeting the standards.

Thousands of comments have poured into ORSANCO from more than a dozen environmental organizations and their members, objecting to the grant of yet another extension, along with other proposed rule changes.

Mercury is a ‘potent neurotoxin,’ said Madeline Fleisher, an attorney with the Environmental Law & Policy Center (ELPC) in Columbus, Ohio.

‘ORSANCO is retreating from what it had decided based on the science back in 2003, which is that these mixing zones—which are effectively allowing polluters to discharge more mercury because it’s diluted in the water—aren’t appropriate for a chemical like mercury that builds up over time in fish,’ Fleisher said.”

— Kathiann M. Kowalski, Midwest Energy News

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