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Groups Appeal Decision to Allow Unlimited Toxic Metal Discharges from TVA Kingston Plant
Nov 13, 2009
The Environmental Integrity Project and Earthjustice, on behalf of the Sierra Club, filed a petition to administratively appeal a new permit allowing toxic scrubber waste discharges from TVA’s Kingston power plant. Although Kingston was the site of the biggest coal ash spill in history last December, this permit allows TVA to discharge new untreated scrubber sludge wastewater into the Clinch River.
States are required under the Clean Water Act to limit discharges of pollutants based on the “best available technology economically achievable” (“BAT”). Where EPA has not stated BAT-based limits, states are required to use their best professional judgment to set limits representing BAT, and these limits must eliminate all discharges of all pollutants if this represents BAT. More than a third of coal-fired power plants achieve zero liquid discharge, which clearly constitutes BAT. Despite this, Kingston’s permit allows new discharges of 1 million gallons per day, and places no limits at all on the heavy metals commonly found in these coal combustion waste waters, such as arsenic, selenium, or mercury.