Environment Local News

The Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission, or ORSANCO, is considering a change to pollution control standards. The body will vote later this year on a measure that would let power plants apply for temporary exemptions from pollution controls.

In late 2013, a moratorium will go into effect that blocks power plants from dumping certain pollutants, such as mercury, into the river. ORSANCO deputy director Peter Tennant says plant operators say they don’t yet have the technology to comply with the moratorium and the Clean Air Act.

“The mercury we’re talking about here, for the most part now, is being discharged up the smokestacks and this situation arose because the companies were required to put in scrubbers to improve the situations for their air emissions,” he says.

ORSANCO’s proposed change would allow operators to apply for temporary exemptions from moratorium while they bring their plants into compliance. Tennant says state governments and ORSANCO would have to approve each request.

“They’re showing us evidence the current technology can’t quite get you down to that,” he says. “Now we’re looking for more evidence. There have been a handful pilot studies…The technology is evolving.”

Public workshops on the proposal will be held in Louisville on Wednesday afternoon (4-7 pm at the Galt House) and in Hunnington, West Virginia Thursday.

A public hearing will be held in Erlanger on August 3rd.