MEDIA CONTACTS: Heidi Griesmer or James Lee
CITIZEN CONTACT: Kristopher Weiss

Ohio EPA Meeting to Discuss Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant Permit Request

A request to grant a temporary variance from the mercury limits allowed in the Fluor-BWXT Portsmouth LLC wastewater discharge permit will be the topic of a Feb. 1, 2018, Ohio EPA public meeting. An information session will begin at 6 p.m., immediately followed by a public hearing at the Piketon High School, 1414 Piketon Road, Piketon.

The only topic of the meeting is the mercury variance request. While Ohio EPA is aware of the community interest in the U.S. Department of Energy’s decommissioning and environmental remediation plan, that is not the subject of the Feb. 1 meeting.

Ohio EPA is reviewing an application from Fluor-BWXT to modify its current discharge permit for the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant to temporarily grant a variance from the 12.0 parts per trillion (ppt) monthly average mercury limit.

If approved, the change would allow the facility to continue to discharge mercury to Little Beaver Creek at current levels which exceed the 12 ppt requirement in the current permit. As conditions of the variance, the facility would be required to:

  • comply with a monthly average mercury limit of 25 ppt;
  • comply with an annual average mercury limit of 12 ppt;
  • identify the sources of mercury and take steps to eliminate or minimize those sources;
  • make reasonable progress toward achieving compliance with the 12 ppt monthly average limit; and
  • submit an annual report to Ohio EPA summarizing efforts to reduce the mercury levels being discharged.

The proposed variance may result in a change from current water quality conditions, but does not authorize any violation of Ohio’s water quality standards that protect human health and the environment. Ohio EPA will consider technical, economic, social and environmental aspects of the proposal before deciding whether to approve or deny the permit change.

Comments on the proposed permit modification may be presented at the Feb. 1 hearing, or submitted in writing to Ohio EPA Division of Surface Water, Permits Processing Unit, P.O. Box 1049, Columbus, Ohio 43216-1049, or by email to epa.dswcomments@epa.ohio.gov. The public comment period will end Feb. 8. Following consideration of public comments, Ohio EPA will decide to whether to approve or deny the permit modification.

The proposed discharge permit is available for review online or at Ohio EPA’s Southeast District Office in Logan. Call (740) 385-8501 for an appointment.


The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency was created in 1972 to consolidate efforts to protect and improve air quality, water quality and waste management in Ohio. Since then, air pollutants dropped by as much as 90 percent; large rivers meeting standards improved from 21 percent to 89 percent; and hundreds of polluting, open dumps were replaced with engineered landfills and an increased emphasis on waste reduction and recycling.