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7.23.2007

BP’s Whiting Refinery

This is an independent review paid by BP through Payperpost. The views that are posted hereunder are the author's opinion based on facts that are hyperlinked on the appropriate words in the article.

On July 15, 2007, the Chicago Tribune Published a story about BP's Whiting factory. BP felt that the article misrepresented certain facts and needed to air its side and this blog was among those considered as a venue. BP and Payperpost does not require this blog to sing praises or even write positive feedback on behalf of BP. BP merely requests that their side be heard.

Finding nothing wrong with the terms, I agreed. Indeed, one can be so helpless after being pounded by the press. The only thing one can do is try to air its side through the same mass media.

The Chicago Tribune's article started with a claim that BP is planning to significantly dump “more ammonia and industrial sludge into Lake Michigan, running counter to years of efforts to clean up the Great Lakes". In the middle of the article, the exact quantity was reported to be 1,584 pounds of ammonia and 4,925 pounds of sludge every day. It added that ammonia promotes algae blooms that can kill fish while sludge is full of heavy metals. The article also stated that BP is at present, is one of the largest polluters along the Great Lakes that can release larger quantities more.

BP for its part counters with that only treated water is released into the lake. Sludge is treated separately and never discharged into the lake, in accordance with state and federal requirements. It also acknowledged that their ammonia discharge will increase, but still, it will be less than half the maximum levels allowed by the federal environmental guidelines. In addition, the company maintains that it operates a modern waste water treatment facility in Whiting and plans to invest $150 million to enhance the facility's capacity.

In my opinion, the Chicago Tribune has pure concern for the people that will be affected by BP's expansion project. In addition, it is an effective deterrent against powerful entities that can possibly abuse the state and its people. However, some of the statements in the concerned article probably amounts to overkill. While it acknowledges that BP's increased level of ammonia into the lake will still be less than the state limits, it devoted more space to stating the harmful effects of ammonia, increased levels of pollutants to be dumped and many other concerns that create a negative image of BP, a company that currently employs 1700 employees and 1500 contract workers.

In my view, such statements are excessive, unnecessary and can sow widespread fear. If the state has predetermined certain levels to be tolerable, anything within the range should be allowed freely. Giving so much mention to negative stories is over-the-top, if it can easily be canceled out by a simple statement such as “it is within the limits allowed by environmental laws”.

I am not much of a fan of the petroleum giants, the fact they they rank at the top of Fortune magazine's list of the world's top 500 firms is a simple proof of their power and great profitability. However, I also believe that they too are entitled to be heard. Besides, the attempt to develop a petroleum source away from the Middle East at the expense of an increase “within the approved levels” in pollution, is nothing less than commendable. What is important is an agreement that serious measures will be implemented in order to rapidly address the added pollution. BP's plan to invest $150 million to enhance the capability its waste water treatment facility is a good start. The state and the public should be able to convince the oil company to increase its spending in related projects, should it be deemed necessary.

RELATED PAGES:
- Chicago Tribune article
- BP's facts about the Whiting Refinery


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