EPA Sued for Allowing Mercury Pollution 900 Times Safe Level

Friday, November 12, 2010
(photo: dragonfly 777, Photobucket)
Accused of failing to properly regulate the discharge of toxic metals by power plants into waterways, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is being sued by two environmental organizations. The Defenders of Wildlife and the Sierra Club allege that the EPA has allowed mercury to be released at levels that are 900 times above what is considered safe. Allegations regarding the release of selenium are even greater—4,000 times above health-safety levels.
The plaintiffs claim the EPA has never set national standards to limit toxic-metal discharges from power plants. Their objective is to force federal regulators to adopt “long overdue regulations” concerning dangerous pollutants dumped by coal-fired plants into nearby bodies of water.
Power plants that use coal generate 130 million tons of coal ash, scrubber sludge and other combustion residues a year. These plants released two million pounds of metals and metal compounds into surrounding waters in 2008 alone, according to the environmental lawsuit. In addition to mercury and selenium, these include arsenic, boron, cadmium, chromium and lead.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
Defenders of Wildlife v. Lisa Jackson (U.S. District Court, District of Columbia) (pdf)


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