The Tribune stated that the BP Whiting oil refinery is planning to dump more ammonia and industrial sludge into Lake Michigan, effectively negating years of effort to clean up the Great Lakes.
BP says that what is released into Lake Michigan is not sludge, but 99.9 percent water. All sludge is treated differently, as per governmental regulations, and never discharged into Lake Michigan. It is true that the new water discharge permit will allow the average ammonia discharge into Lake Michigan to increase, but the level of discharge will be less than half of federal environmental guidelines.
The Tribune article alleged that Indiana regulators exempted BP from state environmental laws so that BP could ramp up a $3.8 billion expansion to refine Canadian crude oil, which is a heavier crude, but more plentiful. The Tribune article stated that BP justified the expansion in part by citing that the project will create 80 new jobs.
The BP Whiting Refinery Fact Sheet, on the other hand, highlights that the Whiting Refinery employs almost 1700 residents and 1500 contract workers. The planned modernization of the plant, costing $3 billion, will create new jobs for about 2000 contract workers temporarily, and add an estimated 80 full-time BP employees to the plant.
The Tribune contrasts the greenbelts and parklands of Lake Michigan in Chicago with the steel mills, industrial factories and refineries that dot the heavily polluted southern shore. This pollution first drew national attention in the 1970s and was part of the impetus for the Clean Water Act.
BP states that it is committed to environmental leadership and expects to be neighbors for many years to come. The Whiting Refinery has been in business for 117 years.
BP asks that you read the Tribune article and their rebuttal in the Fact Sheet. For more information, please read an article the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel.