Weekly Compliance Digest – EPA Clean Water Rules, Chlorpyrifos Tolerances

November 13, 2015 By
In this edition of the Weekly Compliance Digest, we take a look at 2 items from the U.S. EPA: A final rule on effluent limitations guidelines and standards for the steam electric power generating industry, and a proposed rule on revoking all food residue tolerances for the insecticide chlorpyrifos.

Effluent Limitations Guidelines and Standards for the Steam Electric Power Generating Point Source Category (40 CFR Part 423)

What is it?

This final rule, published in the Federal Register on November 3, 2015, and promulgated under the Clean Water Act (CWA), strengthens the technology-based effluent limitations guidelines and standards (ELGs) for the steam electric power generating industry. The rule sets the first federal limits on the levels of toxic metals in wastewater that can be discharged from power plants, based on technology improvements in the steam electric power industry. Discharged toxic metals and harmful pollutants include arsenic, mercury, selenium, chromium, and cadmium.

Who is affected?

Electric power generation facilities using nuclear or fossil fuels. The EPA says certain coal-fired steam electric power plants will be affected by the rule. In addition, the EPA estimates that about 12% of steam electric power plants will incur some costs.

What are the requirements?

Plants in the steam electric industry must reduce discharges of toxic metals and other harmful pollutants discharged in the plants’ largest sources of wastewater. The final rule sets new or additional requirements for wastewater streams from the following processes and byproducts:

  • Flue gas desulfurization
  • Fly ash
  • Bottom ash
  • Flue gas mercury control
  • Gasification of fuels such as coal and petroleum coke

Here’s an illustration of key wastestreams, from the EPA’s webpage on the summary of the rule:

Key Wastestreams

What is next?

The final rule will be effective as of January 4, 2016. The regulation shall be considered issued for purposes of judicial review at 1 p.m. Eastern time on November 17, 2015, meaning any legal challenges to the rule can take place as of that date.
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EPA Proposal to Revoke Chlorpyrifos Food Residue Tolerances

What is it?

The EPA is proposing to revoke all food residue tolerances for the insecticide chlorpyrifos. In the U.S., “tolerances” are limits on the amount of pesticides that may remain in or on foods marketed in the country. These limits are referred to as “maximum residue limits”, or MRLs, in many other countries. The insecticide chlorpyrifos is used primarily to control foliage and soil-borne insect pests on a variety of food and feed crops. According to the EPA, there do not appear to be risks from exposure to chlorpyrifos in food. But when those exposures are combined with estimated exposure from drinking water in certain watersheds, the EPA cannot conclude that the risk from aggregate exposure meets the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) safety standard

Who is affected?

Food growers and farmers are affected by this proposal. The largest agricultural market for chlorpyrifos is corn. It is also used on soybeans, fruit and nut trees, Brussels sprouts, cranberries, broccoli, and cauliflower, as well as other row crops. According to the USDA, there are about 1.2 million crop producing farms in the U.S. The EPA estimates that more than 40,000 crop producing farms currently use chlorpyrifos to control a wide range of insect pests. Some farms growing certain crops (e.g. broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, citrus, etc.) may be affected more than others by the loss of the use of chlorpyrifos, the EPA says.

What are the requirements?

If the proposed rule is finalized, all agricultural uses of chlorpyrifos would cease. In addition, if tolerances are revoked, the EPA would have to cancel the registrations for associated food uses.

What is next?

The EPA is requesting comments on the proposal to revoke all tolerances for the insecticide chlorpyrifos in response to a court-ordered deadline. Comments will be accepted until January 5, 2016. Prior to a final rule, EPA plans to complete a refined drinking water analysis for the entire country as well as update its analysis of the chlorpyrifos hazard to determine whether its current regulatory approach sufficiently addresses the potential for adverse impacts on infants and children.

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Categories: EHS

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