(Undated) - The agency that monitors pollution in the Ohio River has set two new standards for controlling it.
The Cincinnati-based Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission, or ORSANCO, approved two revisions to the river’s Pollution Control Standards – specifications of design river flows to be used for human health criteria and a provision to allow consideration of variances to mixing zone requirements.
Each of the revisions underwent a long public review and comment period.
The mixing zone variance provision generated “considerable opposition,” according to an ORSANCO news release. Groups believe it would allow for an increase in the amount of mercury already found in the river.
ORSANCO said the technology to reduce the output from power plants along the river does not exist.
The discharges in question results from Fluid Gas Desulfurization units, or “scrubbers,” which remove pollutants from emissions to the atmosphere. These discharges are relatively new as power companies have installed scrubbers to reduce air emissions.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has yet to determine best available treatment for these discharges.
ORSANCO stresses that because the organization can allow variances does not mean that the pollutants will instantly rise.
Plants who apply for the variance - which lasts for a maximum of five years - will have to face a rigorous application process.
“It is important for people to know that the Commission’s action does not allow anyone to discharge anything at this time. Variance applications will be considered on a case by case basis and will be subject to intensive review by technical staff from states and the Commission and will also be subject to public review,” said Alan Vicory, Jr., ORSANCO’s Executive Director.
The variance process would be used rarely and the public would be consulted according to ORSANCO.
ORSANCO - http://www.orsanco.org/