The fifty most-polluting coal-burning power plants in the United States emitted twenty tons of mercury into the air in 2007. Of the ten highest-emitting plants, all but one reported an increase as compared to 2006.
Coal-fired power plants are the single largest source of mercury air pollution in the U.S., accounting for roughly 40 per cent of all mercury emissions, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
A new report from the Environmental Integrity Project rates the power plants both in terms of sheer mercury pollution and mercury pollution adjusted per kilowatt hour. It also outlines the ways in which mercury removal is achievable with existing technology.
Activated carbon injection, which is commercially available and has been tested, can achieve mercury reductions of 90 per cent (and better when coupled with a fabric filter for particulate control) on both bituminous and sub-bituminous coals. In addition, mercury can be significantly reduced as a “co-benefit” of controls for other pollutants, such as fabric filters, flue gas desulphurization, and selective catalytic reduction.
Source: The report “Top 50 Power Plant Mercury Polluters”. Available at: http://www.environmentalintegrity.org/pub566.cfm