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New Water Pollution Permits for BP's Indiana Refinery

By JoshMogerman in News on Sep 30, 2013 3:30PM

BP Refinery at Night [David Klein]

The State of Indiana issued new and improved pollution permits for the BP refinery in Whiting: now with less brain poison in the water!

The massive refinery located just over the state line has undergone a $4 billion expansion to process increased amounts petroleum from the controversial tar sands of Canada.

This summer, the Hoosiers floated a draft permit which elicited howls from throughout the region as it would have allowed the facility to dump 16-times the federal limit directly into Lake Michigan. Indiana and BP both noted the refinery was working with Argonne National Laboratory and Purdue University to put new technology in place--technology that would scrub the neurotoxin from their waste flow, though no timeline was in place for flipping that switch.

Environmentalists called the new permit a “mixed bag” when it was released this week. It significantly cuts the amount of mercury that can be discharged by BP—though still at a level 7-times the federal limit—and forces reporting on status of the new technology.

WBEZ’s Northwest Indiana reporter Michael Puente documents some seemingly manufactured drama with a BP spokesman fretting about their ability to live up to the new permit, despite the numbers being based on the facility’s worst discharges as a baseline.

The refinery expansion stands as the biggest private sector investment in Indiana’s history, giving it insane clout in Indianapolis (former Gov. Mitch Daniels groused about the environmental uproar over the project in his memoirs) and making any tightening of restrictions somewhat surprising.