Chesapeake PSR

Maryland strengthens coal wastewater permits

Toxics and HealthLydia SullivanComment

The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) made a major decision to require Maryland coal-fired power plants to install more stringent pollution controls to prevent toxic chemicals such as selenium and arsenic from entering waterways, including ultimately the Chesapeake Bay.

Chesapeake PSR and other groups turned out and testified at public meetings, urging MDE to strengthen water pollution permits for the Dickerson and Chalk Point coal-fired power plants. The ruling effectively will reduce or eliminate the release of toxic chemicals into the Potomac and Patuxent rivers from the plants.

In taking this action, Maryland became the first state to finalize permits to include the earliest possible timeline for implementing Obama-era effluent guidelines limiting toxic metals and other pollutants from bottom ash transport and scrubber wastewater. 

The coal plants must comply with the new rule by Nov. 1, 2020. The timeline is a reversal from the original draft released last year which gave the coal-fired power plants until 2023 to update their controls.

At a time of federal rollbacks on coal plant pollution, the Maryland decision is welcome news for residents of Montgomery and Prince George's counties, environmental activists and all who care about clean water and healthy rivers.

• • •