Pollution Control Standards for Wastewater Into Ohio River
The State Journal
8 October 2015
The Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission approved
revisions to the Pollution Control Standards for industrial and
municipal wastewater discharges into the Ohio River.
Among the revisions approved Oct. 8 were changes to existing
ORSANCO regulations on mixing zones for bioaccumulative chemicals
of concern (BCCs).
"The Commission remains committed to the elimination of all mixing
zones for bioaccumulative chemicals of concern," said Commission
Executive Director Richard Harrison. "Strengthening the
demonstration by the discharger of the actions that they have and
will take to reduce and eliminate the use of mixing zones, will
lower mercury loading into the Ohio River in a more robust and
transparent way than under the former standard, which allowed
variances on the basis of a less rigorous test."
Since October 16, 2003, new dischargers of any of 22 listed
bioaccumulative chemicals of concern (including mercury) into the
mainstem of the Ohio River have been ineligible for a "mixing
zone" in which the wastewater discharge is allowed to mix with
river water before meeting instream water quality standards.
This prohibition, which requires that the water quality standard
for mercury be met at the "end-of-pipe," remains in place for new
dischargers after 2003.
Environmental groups worry about continued health risks for
residents who benefit from the fish supply in the Ohio River and
those who recreate there as well.
“ORSANCO’s decision flies in the face of Kentuckians who support
the ban on toxic mercury discharges and the enforcement of water
quality protections, and it flies in the face of science,” said
Tim Joice, Water Policy Director at the Kentucky Waterways
Alliance. “We are extremely disappointed for all the fishermen and
families that eat fish from the river daily, and disappointed for
the public at large. KWA will continue to fight for clean water
for the health of our communities and citizens.”
For those facilities discharging wastewater into the Ohio River
prior to 2003, ORSANCO's former standards imposed a ban on mixing
zones after October 16, 2015, but allowed ORSANCO to grant a
variance allowing continued mixing zones after that date for such
discharges, on a case-by-case basis. To date, ORSANCO has approved
two such variances, both in the state of West Virginia.