STOP: Stop Tar Sands Operations Permanently

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Who Will Pay for BP Refinery

Posted by mhudema on July 17, 2008

Northwest Indiana Times
Who will pay for the BP expansion?
By Bessie Dent | Thursday, July 17, 2008
The BP Refinery in Whiting has the go-ahead to build a $3.8 billion “upgrade” to process tar sands from Alberta, Canada — a dirty, inefficient, and expensive process from beginning to end.
Producing one barrel of tar sands oil requires removing an average of four tons of earth, uses between two and 4.5 barrels of water, and consumes enough natural gas to heat a family home for two to four days. The resulting barrel of “oil” is actually a barrel of asphalt.
When it finally reaches the Whiting Refinery, large quantities of hydrogen must be added at high temperatures before it can be refined into gasoline. The technology isn’t new, but in order for BP to make a profit, the cost of gasoline must remain high.
Processing large quantities of tar sands oil requires that BP expand their asphalt operations. Emissions from the proposed asphalt plant in Hammond can cause headaches and nausea in the short run. Long-term low-level exposure can cause cancer, asthma, reproductive problems and respiratory problems.
At the peak of production, the new asphalt plant is expected to fill nine trucks per hour, producing a big increase in local diesel emissions — even if BP manages to keep everything else inside the plant gate.
The Hammond Department of Environmental Management has requested that Indiana and the federal government monitor the incidence of cancer and respiratory disease for a 21-year period. The first calendar year prior to the full operation of the proposed asphalt facility will provide baseline data.
Additionally, the Hammond Board of Zoning Appeals wants BP to agree to all of the recommendations of the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry before the BZA rules on zoning for the new plant.
The Hammond Department of Environmental Management also recommended that the Board of Zoning Appeals delay the effective date of approval for BP’s proposed asphalt facility until all the facts surrounding the recent incident at BP’s terminal in Bartlett, Ill., are known, and until the root cause has been identified, so preventive — not just corrective — action can be taken in the Hammond facility.
The zoning board meets Aug. 27 and expects BP to respond by that date. BP has so far ignored the Hammond Department of Environmental Management and the zoning board’s repeated requests for information and commitment. BP is not satisfied to have federal, state and local agencies take responsibility for the monitoring of its toxic emissions; BP wants no monitoring at all.
The Indiana Department of Environmental Management has allowed BP to divide the expansion into many smaller permit applications, classifying each part of the project as “minor” in a blatant evasion of the intent of the permitting process.
That might work on paper, but there is nothing minor about the overall impact on human health and the environment. Area residents are already overburdened with pollution. The new asphalt facility will be built at great human and financial cost. The Hammond Department of Environmental Management and the Zoning Board want BP to be responsible for those costs.
We should support their efforts and not allow BP to shift those costs over the back fence to us.
(Bessie Dent is program coordinator of the Calumet Project. The opinion expressed in this column is the writer’s and not necessarily that of The Times.)
Copyright © 2008 nwi.com
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