Compromise subject of hearing
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
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
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
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.