While BP continues to say that its massive refinery expansion project in Whiting, Indiana is still on schedule to be complete by 2012, there are signs that the project might be slowing down due to the financial obligations relating the catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
According to the Chicago Union News:
About halfway complete, the project -– which employs roughly 2,500
craftsmen this year, including pipe fitters, iron workers, painters and
insulators, Teamsters, carpenters, operating engineers, boiler makers,
electricians and laborers -– has somewhat "leveled off," according to
one union source who also said the various locals had been expecting
more workers on the job at this point.
For International Brotherhood of Electrical
Workers Local 697, 16 people have been laid off since the spill, and
the union went from hiring mode to a hiring freeze, according to the
Hammond-based union, which covers northwest Indiana, including Lake
Additionally, according to one financial stock analyst, "[Capital] projects will be selectively deferred or scaled back." At this point, there is no indication that BP will completely abandon the project in Whiting.
However, what remains to be seen is how soon BP will reveal whether it is modifying its planned expansion of the Whiting refinery, whether in size or timeline.
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.
Global Community Monitor has been working in Whiting to train residents how to use air sampling buckets and gather hard scientific data to pressure BP to reduce toxic emissions. Lake County, Indiana has the 8th highest cancer risk in the nation because
of high levels of toxic air pollution.