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BP gets OK to dump mercury into Lake Michigan

A BP (BP) refinery in Indiana will be allowed to continue to dump mercury into Lake Michigan under a permit issued by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management.

The permit exempts the BP plant at Whiting, Ind., 3 miles southeast of Chicago, from a 1995 federal regulation limiting mercury discharges into the Great Lakes to 1.3 ounces per year.

The BP plant reported releasing 3 pounds of mercury through surface water discharges each year from 2002 to 2005, according to the Toxics Release Inventory, a database on pollution emissions kept by the Environmental Protection Agency that is based on information reported by companies.

The permit was issued July 21 in connection with the plant's $3.8 billion expansion, but only late last week began to generate public controversy. It gives the company until at least 2012 to meet the federal standard.

The action was denounced by environmental groups and members of Congress.

"With one permit, this company and this state are undoing years of work to keep pollution out of our Great Lakes," http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/money/industries/environment/...

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The article is dated 2007,

The article is dated 2007, doesn't anybody read anymore?

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It's still going on , totally unrestricted!

The refinery Chicago loves to hate is in the news again as the Trib’s excellent award-winning environmental reporter Michael Hawthorne digs into water pollution permits floated for BP’s nearby refinery in Whiting, IN. Six years ago, the Chicagoans and Illinois politicians went apeshit upon seeing permits that allowed the refinery to dump large amounts of mercury and ammonia directly into Lake Michigan southeast of the city. In a scathing look at new permits, the Trib shows reports that the State of Indiana would allow BP to continue dumping mercury into the Lake at 20 times the federal limit.

Stung by the previous bad press, BP has been working with scientists from Argonne and Purdue to find new ways to scrub mercury out of their waste stream. But despite trumpeting advances, regulatory documents show that Indiana intends to re-up permits that allow the refinery to continue dumping the powerful neurotoxin at high rates, as the Trib notes:

Under the terms of an earlier decision by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, the BP refinery can legally discharge an annual average of 23.1 parts per trillion of mercury — nearly 20 times the federal water quality standard for Great Lakes polluters. The proposed new permit would allow that special exemption to continue indefinitely.

Though the amount of mercury that BP's treatment plant puts into the lake is small compared with what falls into the water from air pollution, the federal limit of 1.3 parts per trillion reflects decades of research showing that even tiny drops of the brain-damaging metal can contaminate fish and threaten people. The Whiting refinery is among a handful of industrial polluters that still release mercury-laden wastewater into southern Lake Michigan, according to federal records.

In a letter to Indiana regulators, BP said it plans to keep testing the mercury-removal technology and promised to report back by 2015.

Area enviros who have long-battled the refinery are wary of slow-walking public protections aimed at keeping brain poisons out of the Great Lakes, especially with deadlines already missed:

"If good intentions were enough to improve water quality, we wouldn't need the Clean Water Act and pollution permits," said Ann Alexander, a senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council. "We don't want a permit that allows BP to just study this technology to death. They need to be using it."

Indiana gave BP until 2012 to meet the strict federal mercury limit but predicted the refinery would fail to meet the deadline. In late 2011, state regulators exempted the refinery from complying and set its mercury limit at 23.1 parts per trillion, allowing BP to continue legally violating the federal standard. http://chicagoist.com/2013/06/23/is_lake_michigan_an_appropr...

Then we are told don't eat mercury laden fish.

I think they should dispose of the mercury in shareholders wells or bottled water.

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