Ohio Issues Draft NPDES Discharge Permit for Temporary Cleanup Discharges
Ohio EPA has issued a draft general NPDES Permit to cover temporary discharges to waters of the state resulting from clean-up operations or other activities intended to protect human health and the environment. This temporary permit will allow clean-up activities to proceed without interruption provided that basic surface water protection criteria are met: contaminant concentrations must be de minimis, that is, less than 65 mg/l of total suspended solids, less than 10 mg/l of oil and grease, and less than 10% of the waste load allocation for all other applicable pollutants. The general permit does not apply to storm water discharges, petroleum corrective actions, hydrostatic wastewater testing, bioaccumulative contaminants of concern, or commingled hazardous waste or “hazardous substances”. Concern has been expressed about use of the defined CERCLA term “hazardous substances” because virtually every discharge, including drinking water, contains CERCLA hazardous substances in small concentrations. Depending upon Ohio EPA’s exercise of discretion, these limitations set forth in the proposed permit have the potential for handcuffing an otherwise beneficial proposal to expedite cleanups. Only experience after the permit is operational will demonstrate whether Ohio EPA’s well-intentioned permit actually accelerates clean-ups previously slowed by the agency approval process. The draft permit can be reviewed here.
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