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DNR Denies WPS Request For Looser Mercury Levels


An environmental group is applauding a DNR decision this week to deny an exception to pollution standards at the coal-fired WPS power plant at Weston.

But WPS officials are saying  all they want is what other industries are being held to by federal law.

The state DNR says they want WPS to meet more stringent  standards concerning mercury discharge from coal-fired power plants. An attorney for the environmental group "Clean Wisconsin", Elizabeth Wheeler, says the permit was for a stricter mercury emission limit and they are pleased the DNR won't allow the looser restriction...

"...the existing mercury limit was more stringent than federal law and WPS had requested to remove it and therefore they would be allowed to emit more mercury into the air than they previously were...."

But WPS spokesperson Kerry Spees  says the utility wants to meet the federal limits originally set for the Weston plant....

"....and the DNR implementing those limits for all other sources in the state, so we want to be consistent and meet the federal limit. In 2004 when Weston 4 was built, there were different compliances and there was a stricter limit in the air permit from 2004. We'd like that removed and meet the federal limit...."

Under Wisconsin law, power plants like Weston are required to limit mercury emission the the maximum degree they can. The DNR felt the lower limits were achievable.

Mercury emissions are proven to be toxic to humans, especially those who consume larger amounts of fish. Most Wisconsin waters have limits on fish consumption because of mercury in the water.

The DNR set a 30-day public comment period and has scheduled a public hearing set for September 11 at 10:00 a.m. at the Wisconsin State Patrol Wausau Post, basement conference room, on Martin Ave.

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