The Arkansas Pollution Control and Ecology Commission approved Friday the final adoption of new mineral standards for some Arkansas waters, as petitioned by Tyson Foods.
Leaders of Tyson's plant in Waldron asked in 2013 to increase the amount of chlorides allowed in the Poteau River from an unnamed tributary to the Arkansas 59 bridge. At the time, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency officials did not support the rule-making, which had been allowed to proceed.
In January, the commission approved an amended petition that increases the amount of chlorides allowed in the Poteau River from an unnamed tributary to the Arkansas 59 bridge from 120 milligrams per liter to 185; the amount of sulfates allowed from 60 milligrams per liter to 200; and the amount of total dissolved solids allowed from 500 milligrams per liter to 786.
The new rule also increases the amount of chlorides allowed in the unnamed tributary of the Poteau River from 150 milligrams per liter to 180; the amount of sulfates allowed from 70 milligrams per liter to 200; and the amount of total dissolved solids allowed from 660 milligrams per liter to 870.
Because phosphorous levels in the river are also of concern, treatment to reduce phosphorus also can increase sulfate levels, said Allan Gates, an attorney representing Tyson.
Tyson's mineral discharge is lower than it used to be because of efforts in recent years that Gates said would continue even with the changed standards. While the plant often meets standards, it didn't have much breathing room to stay in compliance, which prompted the company to seek new standards.
The commission approved the revision on a voice vote with no opposition.
Wastewater-discharge permit holders have petitioned the commission for mineral standard changes for years, arguing the state's mineral standards are too strict in many places and that companies cannot affordably meet them.
Dozens of wastewater permits are expired but remain active through administrative holds placed on them by the Division of Environmental Quality while the parties attempt to find a way to renew the permits that often call for stricter mineral limits on the permittee because of recent findings that the waters they discharge into are not meeting the state's mineral standards.
Metro on 07/28/2019