Friday, August 17, 2007From an article on the new BP refinery by David Steinkraus in the Racine Journal Times:
As the crow flies it’s 73 miles from Racine straight southeast across the lake to the BP refinery in Whiting, Ind., but to Sister Janet Weyker of Caledonia, it’s close enough for anyone concerned about the welfare of Lake Michigan.
She was one of 70,000 people who signed an online petition protesting a permit issued by the state of Indiana which allows the refinery to increase its discharge of ammonia and solids into the lake. That’s part of a plan for a $3 billion modernization of the refinery to handle crude oil from Canada, which, the company’s Web site says, will provide the Midwest with a stable supply of fuel.
However, the refinery waste discharge will increase to 1,500 pounds of ammonia and 5,000 pounds of suspended solids per day, increases of 54 percent and 35 percent respectively. That is within federal guidelines, the company says.
Residents don’t see it that way, and they have complained about the permit process used by Indiana. The Alliance for the Great Lakes on Wednesday filed a petition with the state asking for a review of that process. Some state and federal officials are interested, too, said Dan Kohler, director of Environment Wisconsin, which started the online petition. . . .
In the same way that coal-fired power plants affect the whole lake, so does this project, she said. The lake’s ecosystems need to be protected no matter where they are because everyone has a stake in the lake’s water. "Everybody adds a little bad stuff to the lake; it does make a difference."
That’s also the consensus of several scientists at the Great Lakes Water Institute of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. . . .
"The particulates," [Michael] Carvan, [an associate scientist at the Great Lakes Water Institute of the UW-Milwaukee] said, "the thing that’s worrying about the particulates is it’s going to contain a lot of toxic chemicals." There will be cadmium, mercury, all the heavy metals coming from the crude oil in those suspended solids. "It’s never good to put that into the lake."