Pre-publication version of 316(b) cooling water intake structures proposal signed

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Acting Assistant Administrator for Water, Nancy K. Stoner, signed a proposed regulation to establish requirements for cooling water intake structures at existing power facilities on May 31, and EPA is submitting it for publication in the Federal Register.

On April 20, 2011, EPA published proposed standards for cooling water intake structures at all existing power generating facilities and existing manufacturing and industrial facilities as part of implementing section 316(b) of the Clean Water Act (CWA). As a result of that notice, EPA received extensive comments on its proposal. These comments included a substantial amount of new information accompanied by reports, studies and other documents often supplemented with the substantiating data.

The Federal Register document presents a summary of the significant new information and data EPA received since April 20 proposal and a discussion of possible revisions to the final rule that EPA is considering. EPA said it is soliciting public comment on the data and possible revisions presented in this notice and the record supporting this notice.

EPA will accept comments on the regulation up to 30 days after publication in the Federal Register.

Richard Myers, the Nuclear Energy Institute's vice president of policy development, planning and supplier programs, saidthe notice of data availability (NODA) is a good first step for the nuclear industry.

"It offers alternatives for compliance that attempt to accommodate the ecological, geographic and engineering diversity of electric generating facilities and their sites, and to account for measures industry has already taken to protect aquatic life," MYers said. "The NODA also indicates that EPA is willing to reconsider the proposed national numeric performance standard for impingement, and allow more flexible compliance options to accommodate diversity of the ecosystems. EPA also places more emphasis on cost-benefit analysis in the NODA, which will help protect consumers from a sharp rise in electricity costs with little or no corresponding environmental benefit. The nuclear energy industry will continue to work with EPA to ensure an environmentally and socially responsible final rule."

The document signed by Stoner on May 31, available here, is a pre-publication and not the official version that will soon be published in the Federal Register.

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