The Kentucky Chamber of Commerce filed comments last month to the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission (ORSANCO) supporting its proposal to remove the acute aquatic life criterion for selenium from its Pollution Control Standards. ORSANCO has proposed the removal of its acute aquatic life criterion for selenium of 20 µg/L in its 2012 proposals. ORSANCO has noted that the current acute criterion for selenium is outdated, and U.S. EPA is in the process of preparing to issue new selenium criteria.
The Kentucky Chamber fully in its comments supported this move by ORSANCO for the following reasons:
- U.S. EPA has acknowledged that the 20 µg/L acute aquatic life criterion for selenium is not scientifically supported. Because the latest scientific data and information does not support the acute criterion, there is no regulatory basis to retain that criterion in ORSANCO’s Pollution Control Standards. See 69 Fed. Reg. 75541, 75544 (Dec. 17, 2004). In fact, more recent acute toxicity testing yielded a substantial (more than one magnitude) increase in the selenite criterion to 258 µg/L.
- States that border the Ohio River have begun to move forward to remove the acute aquatic life criterion of 20 µg/L that was previously recommended by U.S. EPA in 1987 from their water quality regulations on the basis that the standard is not supported by the latest scientific data and information. It is important for ORSANCO and states that border the Ohio River to have consistent water quality standards where supported by sound science. This represents an appropriate opportunity for ORSANCO to revise its Pollution Control Standards to be consistent with those states that have also recognized that the acute criterion for selenium is outdated.
- U.S. EPA is poised to publish revised water quality criterion for selenium that will take into consideration the latest scientific data and information in accordance with Section 304(a) of the Clean Water Act. Accordingly, recommended criteria will soon be available to replace the outdated selenium criteria. (Although ORSANCO has not proposed to remove the 5 µg/L chronic aquatic life criterion, it is also outdated and will likely be replaced by a fish tissue whole body weight standard.)