2005 - 15 people were killed and over 170 injured from a fire and explosion on the Isomerization plant (ISOM) at the BP Products North America
2006 - BP's Prudhoe Bay pipeline exploded, spilling hundreds of thousands of gallons of heavy crude.
BP attack on the Great Lakes comes in three parts:
a) BP wants to drill under Lake Michigan, almost a mile below the lake's bottom. Think of the Gulf leak, but with fresh, not salt water.
b) BP is the 6th largest polluter in the Chicago area. With its new Whiting Refinery capacity (Canadian oil shale & tar sands), that will increase by 40%.
c) BP is deliberately pollutes Lake Michigan with benzene & mercury. Remnants from tar sands refining process will be far, far worse.
a) Directional Drilling under Lake Michigan
Detroit (WWJ) -- As BP continues to pump heavy mud into its blown-out well beneath the Gulf of Mexico in an attempt to plug it, the oil company says it will be two more days before they know if it's working. Meantime, there are those in Michigan are speaking in support of lifting a ban on directional drilling in the Great Lakes.
Environmental analyst for the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, Russ Harding, tells WWJ that he believes tthe ban should be lifted.
Harding explained that we're not talking about drilling in the Great Lakes, but under them.
"What you're doing is accessing those reserves that are thousands of feet under the Great Lakes, underneath that continuous cap of rock," Harding said.
"Basically, what the scientists said, that if anything you would be relieving any pressure if there was ever seismic activity, an earthquake or something that would disrupt or cause a crack. If you got that oil out of there, you would potentially not have a problem," he said.
Drilling is good for the ecology.
Let me get this straight. BP would have us believe that removing a huge natural collection of highly pressurized gas and crude oil, safely locked deep under the Great Lakes, would be good for the environment. Uh huh. Right.
According to the EPA, extensive drilling operations near New Orleans have rapidly increased the rate that its wetlands are disappearing, and appear to contribute to the sinking of New Orleans. Some how, I find anything that BP says rather hard to believe.
Safe for the environment? No way. It is far more likely that BP's lackadaisical and profit driven behavior in the Gulf of Mexico would be repeated here, with the same result.
Right now, directional drilling under the lakes is banned. Let's make sure that ban stays intact.
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b) BP already a major polluter in the greater Chicago area.
In 2007, BP applied for a waiver from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management to increase the amount of air pollution it produced. Not because of increased operations, but because BP was found to be lying about the amounts of air pollution it was already releasing.
WHITING, Ind. (AP) — An exemption from clean air rules would allow BP PLC to emit more pollution from its oil refinery along Lake Michigan than normally permitted.
The company has asked the Indiana Department of Environmental Management for permission to emit more particulate matter, which forms when gases burnt in stacks are released into the atmosphere, cool down and condense.
The reason for the request is that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has revised its estimates of how much particulate matter is emitted from gas. The estimates are twice as high as they used to be, which means that BP would have to reduce its emissions by about 50 percent to comply with current limits.
“There’s been no change in the emission that we’re talking about,” BP spokesman Ron Rybarczyk said. “This is a change in the way the emissions are calculated and the variances are made in accordance with that.”
BP caught lying about its air pollution estimates.
Note how smoothly BP explained away its request for a waiver or variance. "We are already polluting your air at 2x the permissible rate. So, all we want is to be rewarded by doubling the amount of air pollution we can release. Because we want to be good corporate citizens."
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c) BP already polluting Lake Michigan
While most of our attention is rightly focused on growing disaster occurring in the Gulf of Mexico, we ignore a growing danger here in Illinois. Most of us enjoy clean, cheap, and plentiful Lake Michigan water, one of our region's greatest natural resource. That the "clean" part will soon be gone. BP’s Whiting Oil refinery poses a huge threat to the Great Lakes, especially to our drinking water.
The $3.8 billion dollar Whiting expansion project is designed to refine dirty Canadian oil shale and tar sands. Even before the expansion, BP's Whiting plant was 6th largest polluter in greater Chicago area. When the expansion is complete, the US EPA estimates that greenhouse gas emissions will increase by 40 percent. According to the EPA, BP will add huge amounts of nitrogen oxides (NO), sulfur dioxide (SO2), carbon monoxide(C0), and particulate matter less than 10 microns (PM10) emissions to our air.
The worst is yet to come. While planning its expansion, BP asked Indiana's Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) for permission to increase the amounts of pollution it could dump into Lake Michigan. Over the objections of Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin, Indiana granted BP's request. BP is now free to take as much water as it needs, and can dump all the pollution it creates.
Oil shale and tar sand refinement is a ugly, dirty, process and requires huge amounts of water. Because Canada refused BP's request to process and refine oil shale and tar sands in Canada, BP decided to transport millions of tons of those materials to Indiana, a far friendlier place for industrial polluters. Without access to Lake Michigan, and without the ability to dump millions of tons of polluted water back into the lake, BP's Whiting plant would be less profitable. The Whiting refinery already releases huge amounts of toxins, including benzene and mercury, into our drinking water. The expansion will release even more of these toxins very close to where Chicago takes in our drinking water. To learn more about this lurking danger, check out today's Fort Wayne's Journal Gazette at www.journalgazette.net
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If you want to get very, very angry, download this PDF report on the 2005 Texas explosion. BP accountants estimated the cost of cement and steel living quarters, the risk of explosion, and how much they would save by giving workers cheap, unprotected mobile homes. They figured that they could settle the death cases cheaper than it would be to build safe housing.
Texas City Refinery Explosion Report