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The Prohibition of Mercury Discharges from Coal-Fired Power Stations under European Law

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Coal-fired power plants emit mercury trough the air and the water pathway into surface water. Often the occurring depositions from the air and air-soil pathway are higher then the direct depositions through the water pathway. The following article explores the question whether these depositions are in line with the Industry Emission Directive and the Water Framework directive. Whilst the IED does not contain emission limits, there are limitations via the phase-out requirement of the WFD and via the environmental quality standards for mercury contamination of biota in the daughter directive on priority hazardous substances. The phase-out requirement demands the cessation of mercury depositions by 23.12.2006. And based on the biota requirements any new deposition of mercury by coal power plants is inadmissible. These requirements do not only apply to the permission of new power plants, but also to existing plants.

Affiliations: 1: Attorney-at-Law, Germany 1 ,


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