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BP: Bad News/Bad Neighbor?

By JoshMogerman in News on Feb 5, 2011 9:00PM

BP's Whiting, IN refinery [samuelalove]
That massive maze of pipes and towers around the bend of Lake Michigan where BP’s Whiting, IN refinery is in the midst of a $3.8 billion “modernization” project has not exactly been a beacon of good news. Issues of increased Lake dumping and vented carcinogens have garnered regional concern. And this week BP announced that the project is behind schedule, with the completion date now pushed back from 2012 to 2013 due to “many variables.” No doubt fixing up the aging 6th largest refinery in America is a complicated problem, causing executives plenty of stress. Folks living outside the BP property are literally losing sleep over the project for far different reasons---and they are starting to get understandably grouchy.

For months, Whiting residents have been complaining about what the Northwest Indiana Times describes as a “distinct hum and vibration emanating from the plant causing some restless nights for some angry residents.” BP doesn’t deny the issue, but they cannot quite put their finger on its source either:

"We are systematically investigating the sound inside and outside the refinery and in the neighborhoods to determine the source," Director of BP Government Affairs Tom Keilman told the Times. "We are utilizing a third-party acoustic consultant to determine the source."
While they are looking for the source of the sound, BP officials are probably also investigating the source of recent refining hiccups that required reports to regulators regarding hydrogen sulfide and sulfur dioxide releases, ongoing flaring issues, and a small oil release from a leaky pipe. None of those are likely to help as their essential air pollution permits remain in flux with the EPA.

The refinery dates back to the days of Standard Oil over a century ago. In recent years it has become one of the biggest processors of the controversially high-carbon tar sands oil from Canada, which was a key point of discussion yesterday as President Obama met with Canadian Prime Minister Harper in the White House.

But folks in Whiting probably care less about geopolitics and the sordid issues of elevated pollution. They just want their neighbor to pull its act together so the can get a good night’s sleep. We can’t blame ‘em.