(AP) — The Indiana Department of Environmental Management revised the
amount of mercury that BP will be allowed to release into Lake Michigan,
cutting it on Wednesday by more than half but keeping it at a level still
more than six times what is allowed under the federal Clean Water Act.
that goes into effect Nov. 1 allows the oil and gas company's Whiting
Refinery to release no more than 8.75 parts per trillion of mercury, IDEM
spokesman Dan Goldblatt told The Times of Munster. BP had received
permission from IDEM in late 2011 to discharge an annual average of 23.1
parts per trillion. Such mercury variances are allowed under Indiana law.
Scott Dean says the company is "cautiously optimistic" its recent
investment in water treatment equipment will reduce the amount of mercury
discharged by the refinery, which is about 20 miles southeast of Chicago.
though, that "the refinery needs to gain experience operating the new
equipment before we will know if the refinery can successfully and
consistently meet this revised limit," Dean said. "Although we can't
guarantee this stricter permit limit is achievable in real-world operating
conditions, we are committed to trying."
Resources Defense Council senior attorney Ann Alexander called the permit
a mixed bag.
that BP's discharge limit has now been reduced to something that more
closely reflects its actual maximum mercury discharge rather than the
outlier hit incorporated in its previous permit. But it's still rather
ridiculous that the permit makes BP's very worst performance into an
average," she said.
She said she
also is pleased the permit included extensive, precise language about how
BP must submit a report by March 2015 on the economic viability of mercury
groups had raised concerns that a $3.8 billion expansion at the refinery —
making it a top processor of heavy crude oil extracted from Canada's tar
sand deposits — would result in deteriorating water conditions.