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August 15, 2013
No new industries/discharges in effluent plan

In its preliminary 2012 Effluent Guidelines Program Plan, the EPA announced that it is continuing its review of discharges from three industrial categories–pulp, paper, and paperboard; petroleum refining; and meat and poultry products–and will report its findings in the final 2012 plan.

This may lead to revised effluent limitation guidelines (ELG) for these categories.  The three categories were identified as top priorities in the 2011 final review; ranking in effluent guidelines reviews is based on the toxicity of pollutants in an industry’s discharge.

The Clean Water Act requires that the EPA biennially publish a plan that establishes a schedule for the annual review and revision of existing effluent guidelines, identifies any new industrial categories selected for effluent guidelines rulemaking, and provides a schedule for such rulemaking.

The EPA says it will accept public comments on the preliminary plan until October 7, 2013.

No plans for new/revised ELGs

Additional information in the preliminary plan includes:

  • At this time, no new industrial wastewater discharges present concerns that warrant new or revised ELGs. 
  • There is no need for new or revised pretreatment standards, apart from those currently under development.
  • The coalbed methane extraction industry is being proposed for delisting.  The proposed action is based on new information regarding the declining prevalence and economic viability of this industry due in large part to the increased extraction of natural gas from other sources, such as shale formations.
  • Based on a preliminary study that has been completed, the EPA has concluded that an ELG revision is not necessary for regenerated cellulose manufacturers (previously categorized as plastics molding and forming).  The study found that a revision to the ELGs for this industry is not necessary for controlling discharges of carbon disulfide (CS2).  CS2 discharges are primarily a single-facility issue that can be dealt with effectively and more appropriately through permitting.
  • The EPA is proposing to delist the chlorine and chlorinated hydrocarbon manufacturing industry from the plan and discontinue its rulemaking on the basis of data collected voluntarily by the industry that demonstrates that discharges of dioxin are being effectively controlled.
  • The EPA is currently working to issue new or revised ELGs for steam electric-power generation in addition to pretreatment standards for discharges to publicly owned treatment works (POTWs) from dental amalgam and shale gas extraction. 
  • The EPA is planning to propose a final ELG rule for unconventional extraction in the oil and gas industry in 2014. 

Feedback requested

The EPA is requesting public comment on the following specific topics:

  • Whether the Agency used the correct evaluation factors, criteria, data sources, and methodologies in conducting its 2011 annual review and developing the preliminary plan and whether other data sources and methodologies can be used.
  • The Agency’s decisions to not identify any industry categories for new or revised ELGs and to delist the coalbed methane extraction subcategory and chlorinated hydrocarbon manufacturing from the effluent guidelines plan.
  • Opportunities within the ELGs and pretreatment standards to eliminate inefficiencies or impediments to pollution prevention or technological innovation and to promote innovative approaches such as water quality trading.
  • Ideas to enhance innovation and technology in specific manufacturing sectors.

2012 Effluent Guidelines Program Plan

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