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BP Lied in Reporting

Posted by mhudema on June 29, 2008

Study: Emissions greater than in BP initial Reports
June 29, 2008
By Gitte Laasby Post-Tribune staff writer
BP has said publicly it will increase emissions of several air pollutants by more than 20 percent when the modernized Whiting refinery is complete in 2011.
But pollution released into Northwest Indiana’s air could be much worse than that, according to a report BP commissioned and submitted to the Indiana Department of Environmental Management. The Post-Tribune obtained the report under a public information request.
The oil giant has said its emissions of tiny smoke and soot particles — which can cause asthma, heart attacks and premature death — would increase by 114 tons in 2011 compared to 2006.
However, the January 2008 report, prepared by Illinois-based Trinity Consultants for BP, states the overhauled refinery would be capable of belching much more; 14 times as much as companies are normally allowed to emit without being required to reduce pollution.
“More particulate matter means more asthma attacks. It means more people in the hospital. It means more people are going to die,” said Brian Urbaszewski, director of environmental health programs with the Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago. “It seems someone’s going to be unlucky. The question is, who’s it going to be? Do you want to be that person? Or a member of that person’s family?”
At a citizens advisory committee meeting in February, BP’s permitting manager of the project, Lori Washington, denied that the increased emissions would lead to health risks.
“It’s our understanding,” she said, “there is not an increased risk associated with the increase in particulate matter.”
The numbers in the report reflect emissions if BP were to run all equipment at the refinery at 100 percent capacity, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year — something the company has no intention of doing. It does not subtract emissions from units that may be shut down as a result of the modernization.
According to BP’s Web site, particulate emissions will be reduced by investing in high-efficiency cooling tower drift eliminators and enclosing the refinery’s coke-handling system.
Yet, environmentalists said they’re not confident BP will stick to the limits in the permit. In comments to IDEM on BP’s air permit, Natural Resources Defense Council consultant Julia May points out that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued a notice of violation to BP in November 2007 accusing BP of violating emission limits. EPA’s notice said BP violated emission limits for sulfur dioxide, nitrous oxides, carbon monoxide and particulate matter, and that BP failed to obtain a permit before modifying the refinery’s flares.
BP is spending $1.4 billion on environmental improvements as part of the refinery upgrade, which will help reduce overall emissions of regulated pollutants by 6 percent. Despite that, emissions of some pollutants — particles, sulfur dioxide and lead — are projected to increase by more than 20 percent each.
That’s allowed because BP voluntarily made pollution reductions about five years ago, before required. Government requires reductions when companies propose to increase pollution over a certain threshold. Without credits for the reductions, BP would have been well above the threshold (see box).
That means BP most likely would have been required to make additional pollution reductions by installing additional pollution control equipment or closing down units, increasing the cost of the project.
According to the report by Trinity Consultants, nitrogen oxides — which can irritate the eyes, nose, throat and respiratory tract — could increase up to 11 times the threshold amount. To reduce nitrogen oxide emissions during combustion, BP will install new heaters and retrofit or replace existing heaters. Carbon monoxide — an odorless, colorless gas that can kill and at lower levels headaches, dizziness, nausea and fatigue — could go up more than five times the threshold.
BP avoided making additional reductions because polluters are allowed to subtract past reductions from the increases they project.
“The end result is more air pollution several years from now coming out of that facility than it is now,” Urbaszewski said. “Unfortunately, that’s going to mean more health impacts, more damage, regardless what the accounting of pollution credits is.”
Contact Gitte Laasby at 648-2183 or glaasby@post-trib.com. Comment on this story at www.post-trib.com.
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