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Great Lakes Article:

Compromise subject of hearing
Toledo Blade
Published June 13, 2005

The proposed compromise that will be discussed at 7 p.m. tomorrow at Clay High School in Oregon would essentially waive the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency's 36-pound annual limit for mercury emissions, one year after former Ohio EPA Director Chris Jones said that he was imposing it to protect the children of the Great Lakes.

Mercury is a neurotoxin that settles on the water, causing developmental problems for children who eat too much fish from the Great Lakes or other bodies of water.

The mercury requirement is one of the biggest regulatory hurdles that U.S. Coking Group has to overcome to build the FDS Coke Plant, which has been redesigned and is now estimated to cost $300 million to $500 million.

U.S. Coking Group originally sought a permit that would have allowed up to 680 pounds of mercury emissions a year, although its attorney said that was written only as a hypothetical to give regulators an idea of what could have theoretically been released if no mercury controls were installed.

In exchange for relaxing its 36-pound mercury limit by an unspecified amount, the Ohio EPA will require U.S. Coking Group to install a lime-coated baghouse and activated carbon injection system to capture mercury emissions - a pair of devices considered unsurpassed in their technology.

But there will be other trade-offs, largely because U.S. Coking Group wants the right to have up to 48 days a year to bypass pollution control equipment and vent emissions directly in the air while doing maintenance on its coke ovens.

And it proposes to build larger coke ovens but reduce the number of them from 248 to 168. No more than eight days of uncontrolled venting would be allowed for each of the six stacks in a year. The plant's capacity of 1.44 million tons of coke a year would remain the same.

The trade-offs, according to figures provided by the Ohio EPA, include:

Increasing the annual cap on sulfur dioxide emissions by 452,000 pounds, from 2.1 million pounds to nearly 2.6 million pounds. Sulfur dioxide is a lung irritant and one of six major pollutants the U.S. EPA regulates under the Clean Air Act.

Increasing the annual cap on lead emissions by 140 pounds, from 260 pounds to 400 pounds. Regulators put lead in a class with mercury in terms of potential harm to developing children.

Increasing the annual cap on various forms of chemicals together classified as hazardous air pollutants by 560 pounds, from 12,840 pounds to 13,400 pounds.

Reducing two forms of sooty particulate matter. One annual cap for soot would be lowered by 100,000 pounds, from 1.5 million pounds to 1.4 million. The other annual cap for soot would be lowered by 68,000 pounds, from 566,000 pounds to 498,000 pounds.

Reducing the annual cap on smog-forming nitrogen oxide emissions by 36,000 pounds, from 2.1 million pounds to 2.06 million pounds.

Reducing the annual cap on carbon monoxide by 42,000 pounds, from 612,000 pounds to 570,000 pounds.

Reducing the annual cap on chemicals that are collectively known as volatile organic compounds by 8,000 pounds, from 188,000 pounds a year to 180,000 pounds.

SOURCE: Ohio EPA, U.S. Coking Group, and Blade research.

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