EPA: BP began Whiting work without permit
"project to process Canadian crude oil at the refinery in 2005 without the proper permit,"
October 3, 2008
By Gitte Laasby Post-Tribune staff writer
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has issued a citation to BP Whiting, alleging BP began its expansion project three years before receiving the proper permit.
"EPA now has information suggesting that BP may have begun a project to process Canadian crude oil at the refinery in 2005 without the proper permit," EPA said in a news release Thursday.
The Indiana Department of Environmental Management issued a construction permit for the project on May 1 this year. Beginning construction before receiving the right permit is a violation of the Clean Air Act.
The unpermitted modifications significantly increased pollution, which can aggravate heart disease, cause respiratory illnesses and lung damage, and lead to premature death, according to the EPA.
George Czerniak, chief of the air enforcement and compliance assurance branch of EPA Region 5, said BP illegally modified at least 15 different units at the refinery, including a cracking unit that converts heavy oils into lighter products such as gasoline.
BP denies it did anything wrong, saying it does not believe a permit is required for the modifications.
"We are confident these preliminary findings will prove to be baseless," BP spokesman Scott Dean said in a statement. "The issue of interpretation involves whether routine safety and reliability improvements to equipment that does not significantly affect air emissions requires an environmental permit from EPA."
Dean said an EPA investigation six months ago revealed no evidence of any link between BP's 2005 modifications and the Canadian crude project.
"EPA confirmed this fact in late March when it advised Indiana regulators that it would not object to the issuance of the Whiting air permit," Dean said.
EPA's Czerniak said EPA wouldn't have publicized the citation if the agency wasn't confident in its results.
"This is a violation that's detected by measuring pollution. It's detected by looking at plans and projects and activities as well as the intent of those projects," Czerniak said.
Had BP sought a new permit, the company would have been required to lower emissions, he said.
Ann Alexander, senior attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council, which has appealed BP's permit, said she's happy EPA is stepping in.
"There's a pattern going on with disrespect of the permitting process," she said about BP. "Chicagoland has to live with this for years to come so it's essential that this permitting is done right."
BP is facing a maximum penalty of up to $32,500 per day for the violations, which are ongoing.
The company has 30 days to request a meeting with EPA to discuss the allegations or convince EPA no violations occurred. If the parties can't come to a resolution, EPA can take the case to court.
The citation comes as an amendment to another notice of violation EPA issued to BP on Nov. 29, 2007, saying unpermitted modifications caused "significant increases" in emissions of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, particulate matter and carbon monoxide.
Contact Gitte Laasby at 648-2183 or email@example.com. Comment on this story at www.post-trib.com.
EPA cites BP refinery for Clean Air Act violations
Refinery began Tar Sands Expansion 3 years before permit was issued
October 2, 2008
By GITTE LAASBY Post-Tribune staff writer
BP began its Whiting expansion project three years before being granted the proper permit, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reported Thursday.
Beginning construction before receiving the right permit is a violation of the Clean Air Act.
“EPA now has information suggesting that BP may have begun a project to process Canadian crude oil at the refinery in 2005 without the proper permit,” EPA said in a press release Thursday.
The Indiana Department of Environmental Management issued a construction permit for the project on May 1 this year. BP now has 30 days to request a meeting with EPA to discuss resolving the allegations.
EPA issued the statement as an amendment to a citation issued in November 2007 that said BP violated the Clean Air Act by failing to get a permit when it modified one of its cracking units in 2005. At the time, EPA said BP had made “unpermitted modifications” that significantly boosted air pollution. The agency discovered the alleged violations during an inspection in January 2007.
For more information, see Friday’s Post-Tribune.
Contact Gitte Laasby at 648-2183 or firstname.lastname@example.org