Petroleum, Nanomaterial, Metal Sectors Targeted in New EPA Effluent Guidelines Plan

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By Amena H. Saiyid

Sept. 15 — Wastewater from the oil and gas production, petroleum refining, metal finishing and nanomaterial industries could be subject to regulation under a plan to study these discharges outlined in the Environmental Protection Agency's preliminary fiscal 2014 effluent guidelines program.

The EPA in a preliminary effluent guidelines program plan to be released Sept. 16, will seek information from industries that may need either revised existing regulations or new regulations.

Among the categories needing evaluation or revision in existing regulations are the metal finishing, petroleum refiners, and oil and gas industries. The EPA currently doesn't regulate wastewater discharges from nanomaterial manufacturing plants. The agency does regulate wastewater effluent from centralized treatment facilities, but it does not specifically regulate wastewater effluent from oil and gas activities, such a hydraulic fracturing.

The EPA wants to find out more about the characteristics of discharges from centralized treatment facilities accepting wastewater from hydraulic fracturing and other oil and gas extraction activities.

At petroleum refineries, the EPA said it would seek data on discharges of metals and dioxin, including the sources of these contaminants, either in crude oil sources or in the refining process.

The EPA also said it would seek data and information on potential industrial wastewater discharge hazards associated with nanomaterial manufacturing and formulating.

From the metal finishing sector, the EPA intends to obtain more data about metal discharges, particularly zinc and cadmium.

Section 304(m) of the Clean Water Act requires EPA to publish a schedule every two years for annually reviewing and possibly revising effluent guidelines that have been promulgated as required by Section 304(b).

Under Section 304(b) of the Clean Water Act, the EPA regulates the discharge of pollutants from industries directly to surface waters through effluent limitation guidelines, and indirect discharges via wastewater treatments plants through pretreatment standards. Both regulatory limits are based on available technology.

The EPA will publish its notice announcing the preliminary FY 2014 plan Sept. 16 jointly with its final 2012 program plan for regulating industrial and municipal discharges. Under the final FY 2012 plan, the EPA has said it plans to promulgate effluent limits for mercury discharges associated with dental amalgam.

The White House Office of Management and Budget completed its review of the joint plans on Sept. 2.

The agency will accept comments, identified by Docket No. EPA-HQ-OW-2014-0170, at until Nov. 17.

To contact the reporter on this story: Amena H. Saiyid in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Larry Pearl at

The EPA notice about its final FY 2012 effluent guidelines program plan and its preliminary FY 2014 program plan is available at