• EPA Power Plant Discharge Rule

EPA Power Plant Discharge Rule Compliance Dates – Weekly Compliance Digest

September 29, 2017 By
In this edition of the Weekly Compliance Digest, we cover the postponement of compliance dates for rules on discharges by U.S. steam electric power plants.

Postponement of Certain Compliance Dates for the Effluent Limitations Guidelines and Standards for the Steam Electric Power Generating Point Source Category

What is it?

On September 18, 2017, the U.S. EPA finalized a rule postponing certain compliance dates by two years for the effluent limitations (ELs) and pretreatment standards for existing sources (PSESs) for steam electric power plants.

Here’s some background: On November 3, 2015, EPA had issued a final rule on Steam Electric Power Generating Effluent Guidelines that established new effluent limitations (ELs) and pretreatment standards for existing sources (PSESs) for the Steam Electric Power Generating Point Source Category based on the best available technology economically achievable (BAT). The rule addressed and contained limitations and standards on the following types of wastestreams at steam electric power plants:

  • Fly ash transport water
  • Bottom ash transport water
  • Flue gas mercury control wastewater
  • Flue gas desulfurization (FGD) wastewater
  • Gasification wastewater
  • Combustion residual leachate.

The 2015 rule set the first federal limits on the amount of toxic metals and other harmful pollutants that steam electric power plants are allowed to discharge in the six sources of wastewater. Power plants were required to comply with the rule “as soon as possible beginning November 1, 2018”, depending on when they needed a new Clean Water Act permit.

As part of the new rule announced this month, the compliance dates for the best available technology economically achievable (BAT) ELs and PSESs are delayed by two years for the following two wastestreams:

  • Bottom ash transport water
  • Flue gas desulfurization (FGD) wastewater

Thus the new compliance dates for the two wastestreams above is now “as soon as possible beginning November 1, 2020”. The compliance dates for the other four types of wastestreams, and all other provisions in the 2015 rule, remain unaffected for now.

Who is affected?

The 2015 rule, which has now been amended with regards to two of the six wastestreams, affects certain coal-fired steam electric power plants. EPA estimated in its 2015 rule that about 12% of steam electric power plants would have to make new investments to meet the new requirements.

What is next?

For now EPA is only delaying the compliance date for the two affected wastestreams (bottom ash transport water and FGD wastewater) to November 1, 2020. However, EPA may also potentially revise the ELs and PSESs for the two affected wastestreams, thus going beyond simply delaying the compliance date by two years. For more information on the new power plant discharge rule, check out this EHS Daily Advisor article.

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