Issue Date: October 19, 2009
Power Plants Cut Mercury Releases
More than a dozen U.S. coal-fired power plants are cutting their emissions of mercury by an average of 90%, says a report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO-10-47). These results, GAO says, “suggest that similar reductions can likely be achieved at most coal-fired power plants in the U.S.” Fourteen generating facilities are now using carbon sorbent injection systems to meet state-imposed limits on their emissions of the neuorotoxic element. This type of mercury-removal technology, GAO found, is highly effective and inexpensive when compared with devices for controlling other types of air pollution. Installation of sorbent injection systems costs an average of $3.6 million at each of the plants, with annual operating costs of around $675,000, according to the report. In addition, GAO says, other coal-fired power plants are making substantial cuts in mercury emissions as a side effect of installing equipment to control sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides.
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