The Biden-Harris Administration has green-lit the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposal to reduce pollutants discharged through wastewater from coal-fired power plants.
Calling time of coal-powered water pollutants
The Biden-Harris Administration has green-lit the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposal to reduce pollutants discharged through wastewater from coal-fired power plants by more than 580 million pounds per year.
It comes as part of the Clean Water Act to reduce discharges of toxic metals and other pollutants from these power plants into lakes, streams, and other water bodies.
Coal-fired power plants discharge large volumes of wastewater into waterways discharging pollutants such as selenium, mercury, arsenic, nickel, bromide, chloride, and iodide.
Exposure to these pollutants can cause serious harm to people and ecosystems through contamination of drinking water sources.
The rule change would establish stringent discharge standards for three types of wastewater generated at coal-fired power plants:
1. Flue gas desulfurization wastewater
2. Bottom ash transports water
3. And combustion residual leachate.
"The EPA’s proposed science-based limits will reduce water contamination from coal-fired power plants and help deliver clean air, clean water, and healthy land for all,” said EPA administrator Michael S. Regan.
A national standard for PFAS
This was just the start, as the EPA also announced changes to specific compliance paths for certain “subcategories” of power plants.
Under the new rules, the EPA is issuing a direct final rule and parallel proposal to allow power plants to opt into a compliance path for coal-fired power plants that commit to stop burning coal by 2028.
Other recent updates included the Biden-Harris administration proposing the first-ever national standard for six "forever chemicals" or perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).
"This action has the potential to prevent tens of thousands of PFAS-related illnesses and marks a major step toward safeguarding all our communities from these dangerous contaminants."
The planned regulation would establish legally enforceable levels for the six PFAS known to occur in drinking water.
The EPA said it would regulate two PFAS compounds as individual contaminants, which would be regulated at four parts per trillion, and four other PFAS compounds would be deemed a mixture and would limit the combined levels of those substances in water.
"This action has the potential to prevent tens of thousands of PFAS-related illnesses and marks a major step toward safeguarding all our communities from these dangerous contaminants," said Regan.
PFAS partnerships progress
With movement on federal regulation on PFAS, new partnerships and technology trials have emerged.
Italian multi-national, De Nora, and destruction specialists, Aclarity, recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to treat and mineralise PFAS across the US.
By combining De Nora's regenerable ion exchange resins with Aclarity's electrochemical oxidation technology, the on-site system will use the resins to concentrate PFAS in potable water applications before it is broken down by oxidation, specifically targeted for groundwater applications across the US.
Elsewhere in the US, Orange County Water District (OCWD) has been working on adding 10 PFAS treatment plants to tackle PFAS.