New EPA right-to-know initiative will provide Americans information on mercury

The US EPA has announced that it now requires 1400 US coal-fired electric generating plants to make publicly available information concerning mercury emissions under the government's public right-to-know initiatives.


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The move is a response to a report submitted to Congress last February evaluating toxic air emissions from power plants. The EPA concluded that one third of all US man-made mercury emissions come from coal-fired plants. The report called for the monitoring of power plants to better ascertain the quantity and nature of mercury emissions.

The EPA will require all coal-fired power plants above 25 megawatts generating capacity to sample and test for mercury content of the coal they burn and report the results to the Agency.

The EPA will also require a sample of 75 plants to perform smokestack testing for the amount and type of mercury emissions. The EPA will then make the results of these tests available to the public.

EPA will begin collecting the emissions data January 1, 1999, and start making it available on the Internet in 2000.

This information will be essential when assessing the regulation of mercury emissions. The EPA will use the data to compile mercury emissions data from the power generating industry; to determine the degree to which the pollution is a local or a regional or global transport problem; and to help in the development of mercury emissions control technologies.

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