Public Comment Period Ending on Proposed Mercury Waiver for Ohio River

by Erica Peterson on December 14, 2011

Tomorrow is the deadline for public comment on a proposal to waive some pollution requirements for mercury discharge into the Ohio River.

PPG Industries is seeking a variance from new mercury limits which will go into effect in October 2013 for the Ohio River. The company says it won’t be discharging any more mercury from its plant in Natrium, West Virginia than it currently does. But the current limit doesn’t meet the new stricter standards scheduled by ORSANCO, the regional compact that regulates pollution in the Ohio River.

The proposal is opposed by environmental groups, including the Kentucky Waterways Alliance. President Judy Petersen says because mercury bioaccumulates in fish tissue, even a small amount of mercury could cause problems later on.

“Their continuing to discharge over and above the legal standard that we’re going to be holding everybody else to, certainly could cause the river, and likely would cause the river eventually, to be impaired for mercury,” she said.

The Ohio River isn’t currently listed as ‘impaired’ for mercury, but there are fish advisories warning the public to limit consumption of many species of fish.

In a statement, PPG stressed its commitment to the environment and said it has substantially reduced its mercury emissions over the past several years. The company recently invested $5 million for an advanced treatment system at the Natrium plant and will continue investing in new technologies.

To comment on the proposal, send comments in writing to ORSANCO  5735 Kellogg Ave., Cincinnati, OH  45230. To submit a comment by email, submit your comment to pcs@orsanco.org  no later than Dec. 15, 2011.

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