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Standards proposed for mercury emissions from power plants

Winnipeg, MB -- Because of human health and environmental concerns, the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Enviro...


Winnipeg, MB — Because of human health and environmental concerns, the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME) is considering ordering coal-fired power plants to cut mercury emissions by as much as 90%.

In its document, “Canadian Uniform Data Collection Program for Mercury from Coal-Fired Electric Power Generation,” released on June 25, 2003, the CCME provides options for a Canada Wide Standard (CWS) for mercury.

Mercury, naturally present in coal, escapes into the environment through smokestacks, and eventually falls into water and is consumed by fish. Levels are so high in some areas that health authorities have issued advisories and there is concern about mercury causing learning disabilities in children.

According to the CCME, Canada’s power utilities released approximately 2,500 kg of mercury into the environment in 1999, and coal-fired stations are the country’s largest remaining human source of mercury emissions.

The mercury data presently available to set a CWS for this sector are less than anticipated and desired by both government and stakeholder participants, according to the CCME. To address this concern a special committee is developing a monitoring and reporting program to guide the collection, verification and reporting of data from the EPG sector — located mainly in Ontario, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick — prior to 2005.

For further information, call 204-948-2090, e-mail info@ccme.ca or to read the document, visit www.ccme.ca