Issue Date: July 20, 2009
Mercury Reduction At Coal-Fired Plants
The Government Accountability Office reports that tests run by the Department of Energy and industry show that carbon sorbent injection can significantly reduce mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants (GAO-09-860T). In 50 tests on 14 facilities with a variety of coal and boiler configurations, the system achieved an average 90% reduction in mercury emissions, GAO reports. Costs to install and monitor the sorbent systems averaged $3.6 million, which is much less than installation of other pollution control systems. Yearly costs were about $640,000—mostly for the carbon sorbent material. Some of the tests by the utilities were done to comply with state standards on mercury releases. The 491 coal-fired power plants in the U.S. emit a total of about 48 tons of mercury annually, GAO states. EPA announced on July 2 that it plans to collect information on mercury emissions from power plants in advance of setting maximum achievable control technology standards for mercury releases.
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