Halfway through a project to expand its oil refinery in Indiana, BP is coming under increasing fire from community and environmental groups and legislators for the potential pollution impacts of this expanded facility on the Great Lakes.
While the national spotlight recently has been on BP's disastrous spill in the Gulf of Mexico, local environmental groups, such as GCM's partner the Calumet Project, have been raising awareness about both the poor environmental track record of BP in Indiana and the increase in pollution from the refinery expansion, especially since they will be using dirtier tar sands crude oil.
As detailed in an article in the Michigan Messenger, the EPA cited BP in 2008 for excessive benzene releases going back 6 years. Benzene is a known carcinogen which causes leukemia. In 2009, EPA issued another notice for BP's flaring operations which violated air pollution control practices.
Beyond the track record, there is increasing concern about how the expanded operations will harm human health.
Last year, GCM and Calumet Project met with the US EPA to raise issues about
the environmental justice impacts of increased pollution from the
refinery expansion and the use of dirtier tar sands crude oil.
BP's application for an air permit to refine tar sands from Canada
admitted that it would increase emissions of three pollutants by
alarming amounts: Particulate Matter by 21%, Sulfur Dioxide by 20% and
Lead by 25%. Also, the expansion will release 1.5 to 2 million tons more
carbon dioxide greenhouse gas per year.
causes asthma attacks, strokes, heart attacks and premature deaths.
Sulfur dioxide makes acid rain and also creates deadly, fine particles
that reach deep into the lungs. Lead can damage the kidneys, affect
hearing, lower IQ, can result in delinquent behaviors, and the damage is
permanent. The area is already over burdened with pollution.
An appeal of the permit based on environmental justice, filed by
GCM and the Calumet Project, is currently as well as legal action
concerning BP's commencement of the expansion construction without
proper permits. In addition to having created the community pressure to
stop the siting of an asphalt plant, the Calumet Project continues to
use Bucket Brigades to sample the air.