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John DeCock

John DeCock

Posted: June 22, 2010 04:32 PM

BP: Come for the Gulf Disaster, Stay for the Great Lakes Pollution

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British Petroleum didn't just fall out of the sky one day and decide to start polluting the Gulf of Mexico with the worst oil disaster in United States history. Oh no, they've been at this a while and their exploits are not confined to destroying important ocean ecosystems with risky, unsafe technology.

Sometimes they like to go old school and just dump a bunch of poison in your fresh water and air too. Meet the BP Refinery at Whiting, IN. This refinery, the fourth largest in the country, is situated on the shores of Lake Michigan. It is in the midst of a $3.8 billion expansion. This expansion will increase their greenhouse gas emissions by 40%, the equivalent of putting an additional 320,000 cars on the road. It is the sixth largest source of industrial pollution in the Chicago area. According to the Chicago Tribune:

The company will now be allowed to dump an average of 1,584 pounds of ammonia and 4,925 pounds of sludge into Lake Michigan every day. The additional sludge is the maximum allowed under federal guidelines.

Why did Indiana fast track this expansion by exempting BP from environmental regulations? Well it appears that the putative reason is that it will create 80 jobs. That's right, we don't even go into three digits in job creation. And what fresh hell do we get for those 80 jobs? An increase of 35% and 54% respectively in the amount of toxic sludge and ammonia released into Lake Michigan. I guess being the number six industrial polluter gives them something to shoot for.

Not surprisingly, BP has a history of pollution violations, cited for illegally increasing air pollution without required permits or controls and releasing excessive Benzene into the water for six years, including 2008 where the release was 16 times the legal limit.

Despite their carefully orchestrated marketing campaign to position themselves as the "Beyond Petroleum" company, the illusion has been shattered in the gulf. Now it's time to shine a light on all the destructive, polluting, unsafe practices of this company and come up with a new slogan to match to their initials. Broken Promises? Benzene Pollution? Bad Practices? Bottom-line Priority? I'd prefer Bankrupt Prisoners myself.


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