30 April 2010– The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is issuing several proposals to cut mercury emissions from about 200,000 industrial boilers, process heaters and solid waste incinerators by more than 50 percent. EPA says industrial boilers and process heaters are the second largest source of mercury emissions in the United States. Estimated annual costs of installing and operating pollution controls required under these rules would be $3.6 billion.
Large boilers and all incinerators would be required to meet emissions limits for mercury and other pollutants. Facilities with boilers would also be required to conduct energy audits to find cost effective ways to reduce fuel use and emissions. Smaller facilities, such as schools would not be included in these requirements, but they would be required to perform tune-ups every two years.
The proposals cover emissions from two types of combustion units. The first type, boilers and process heaters, burns fuel such as natural gas, coal, and oil to produce heat or electricity. These units can also burn non-hazardous secondary materials such as processed tires and used oil. The second type of unit, commercial and industrial solid waste incinerators, burns solid waste.
EPA is also proposing to identify which non-hazardous secondary materials would be considered solid waste and which would be considered fuel. This distinction would determine whether a material can be burned in a boiler or whether it must be burned in a solid waste incinerator. The agency is also soliciting comment on several other broader approaches that would identify additional non-hazardous secondary materials as solid waste when burned in combustion units.
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