Green Buckeye RN


Columbus Dispatch: Ohio Lets Power Plants, Factories Ignore Federal Mercury Limits
January 20, 2010, 10:16 am
Filed under: News, Spotlight on... Mercury

Saturday,  January 16, 2010 9:59 PM
By Spencer Hunt

Since 2004, the state has allowed 42 treatment facilities, power plants and factories to ignore federal limits on dumping mercury into lakes, rivers and streams.

This year, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency is considering more than 30 new requests for variances from companies that argue that the cost of keeping mercury out of the water far exceeds any benefits to wildlife and human health.

Some argue that the technology needed to meet the limits set in 1995 does not exist.

“There is no treatment technology available to get to these low levels,” said Pat Hemlepp, a spokesman for Columbus-based American Electric Power.

But critics say governments are doing little, if anything, to make businesses develop cheap, reliable filters to remove mercury.

Ellen Mee of the Ohio Environmental Council said the growing list of companies allowed to pollute makes the federal limits meaningless.

“We need to be working harder to get to that standard,” Mee said.

That standard was created by the 1995 Great Lakes Initiative, a federal mandate that ordered strict limits on mercury and other toxins that can be dumped into the Great Lakes and the rivers and streams that drain into them.

Mercury is a potent neurotoxin that causes brain and kidney damage and serious developmental problems in fetuses and newborns. It’s so common in the environment that the state warns people not to eat fish from some streams more than once a month.

The initiative ordered businesses and treatment plants in 20 northern Ohio counties and parts of 13 others in the Lake Erie basin to limit mercury in their “waste water” to a monthly average concentration of no more than 1.3 parts per trillion.

Read further at http://www.dispatch.com/live/content/local_news/stories/2010/01/16/mercury.html?sid=101

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