Appalachian Voices are Calling Out for Protection of Mountain Streams

by Duane Nichols on October 1, 2015

Comment Period on Selenium Standard Extended to October 10th

From: Appalachian Voices . . . .

Dear Friend of the Mountains,

Date: September 28, 2015

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has extended the public comment period on a critical decision for the health of Appalachia’s waterways and aquatic life.

Take action now and tell the EPA that it is unacceptable to weaken selenium standards and put clean water at risk.

The significance of the EPA’s decision on a new chronic selenium standard cannot be overstated. Selenium is toxic to fish and other wildlife at very low levels and is commonly found in wastewater from mountaintop removal mines. Once it is released into waterways, selenium enters the food chain and accumulates in fish, causing reproductive failure and deformities.

Officials in Kentucky have adopted, with the EPA’s approval, a standard with serious scientific flaws that does not sufficiently protect sensitive species. Without an enforceable federal limit, citizen monitoring and enforcement under the Clean Water Act will be seriously compromised.

The comment period has been extended to Oct. 10. Please take action today and tell the EPA to create a selenium standard that protects fish and people from the devastating impacts of mountaintop removal.

For the mountains, Erin Savage, Central Appalachian Coordinator, Appalachian Voices, 171 Grand Blvd, Boone, NC 28607.   See also:


U.S. EPA Now Regulates Toxic Heavy Metals from Coal Ash in Waterways

From an Article by Don Hopey, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, September 30, 2015

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has issued the first federal rules aimed at reducing toxic water discharges into lakes, rivers and streams from coal-fired power plants and coal ash dumps.

The regulation will eliminate most releases of ash-contaminated wastewater, require treatment of sludge and cut discharges of toxic heavy metals, including mercury, arsenic, lead and selenium by 1.4 billion pounds a year, according to the EPA, producing health benefits totaling $463 million annually.

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said: “These cost-effective, achievable limits will provide significant protections for our children and communities across the country, including minority and low-income communities, from exposure to pollutants that can cause neurological damage in children, cancer, and other serious health problems.”

“Today’s rule will make a huge dent in the nation’s largest source of toxic water pollution,” said Abel Russ, attorney for the Environmental Integrity Project, a Washington, D.C. environmental organization… “This is a significant step forward, and it will directly benefit human health and the environment.”

The EIP and other environmental organizations sued the EPA in 2009 to prompt the agency to issue these regulations, which become effective 60 days after publication in The Federal Register.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Muddy Duck October 1, 2015 at 10:40 pm

Attention: Docket No. EPA-HQ-OW-2004-0019

Selenium, a chemical commonly found in wastewater from mountaintop removal coal mines and in coal ash ponds, is toxic to fish and other wildlife at very low levels, andis toxic to humans at high levels. Once in streams and lakes, selenium enters the food chain and accumulates in fish, causing reproductive failure and deformities.

The EPA has proposed changing the chronic standard so that it relies not on direct measurements of selenium in water, but also on measurements of selenium directly in fish. The method of enforcement will not identify problems until extensive damage has already been done. It will also make it difficult to identify which mine is responsible for the pollution in streams where multiple mines are present. Finally, it will make citizen monitoring and enforcement more difficult.

Tell the EPA to fully protect aquatic life and make sure the selenium standard is enforceable.


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