Ask any Chicagoan and they’ll inform you that Lake Michigan is a giant part of what makes this city great. So, maybe this is what makes BP’s close by refinery in Whiting, IN so reviled.

The week of the Exxon Valdez disaster anniversary and a week after the Council of Canadians released a report highlighting the menace that tar sands oil imposes on the nice Lakes, BP did what it always does: crapped up Lake Michigan.

Yesterday, an undetermined amount of oil made its approach into the refinery’s water therapy unit and was dumped into the lake, mucking a half mile of shoreline with waxy residue.

BP Whiting is the supply of the huge mounds of petcoke at the moment burying portions of the Southeast Aspect of Chicago, much to the chagrin of neighbors who discover the oil refining waste at the edge of their yards and parks.
– Indiana just lately put out draft water pollution permits that will have allowed the refinery to dump more than 16-instances the federal limit of mercury immediately into the Lake, which is a drinking water supply for greater than 7 million people. After pushback from NRDC and lots of others, the final permit was dialed back to solely 7-instances the allowable federal limit for this explicit brain poison.
– They crap up the air too. We battled them in court docket for years when they tried to game the numbers and suggest that a massive expansion to process the dirtiest oil on the planet would cut back the quantity of pollutants they streamed into the air. Ultimately, they settled with us, our partners and the USEPA, compelled to make an addition $four hundred million funding to help really reduce the mess they emitted.
– Oh, and useless monkeys. However that’s in all probability not their fault/p>

Most of these points stem from that $4 billion growth to process Canadian tar sands oil. Making it a harbinger foretelling some of the much less apparent impacts coming from the battle over this backside of the barrel petroleum presently being foisted on the world by the oil industry. The insane climate dangers alone should make the public cautious about embracing additional essentially the most carbon intensive petroleum on the planet.

Most of these points stem from that $four billion expansion to process dirty Canadian tar sands oil; making the BP refinery a harbinger of many damaging impacts coming from the this backside of the barrel petroleum being foisted on the world by the oil business. Climate dangers alone should make the public cautious about additional use of tar sands, probably the most carbon intensive petroleum on the planet. However the stream of mess popping out of BP Whiting reveals the social, political and democratic threats that addiction to tar sands pose to citizens and communities.

Adjustments in our oil sector will not be about distant actions and oil rigs. They’re about immediate impacts individuals are beginning to see in their homes, households and neighborhoods: Polluted waters; Mounds of solid waste; Risky transportation schemes that deliver filth, explosions, pollution and destruction to our houses, waters and air within the form of oil trains and leaky pipelines.

Talking of leaky pipes, Enbridge’s Line 6B originates near BP’s Whiting petroleum equipment service refinery. That’s the pipeline that spurted 1,000,000+ gallons of heavy tar sands oil into Michigan’s Kalamazoo River, leading to the largest and most expensive inland oil spill in our nation’s history. Like BP yesterday, Enbridge didn’t give detail on what was running in that pipeline—going so far as to deny that tar sands oil was involved with the spill, until Michigan Messenger’s Todd Heywood and OnEarth’s correspondent Kari Lydersen compelled the company’s CEO to come back clean. That obfuscation of truth had very real impacts. Whereas cleanup up crews have been skimming the river for oil, heavy tar sands globules sank. Right this moment, submerged oil remains to be being cleaned in the riverbed.

So, whereas the Monetary Times reviews that the spill was likely 10-12 barrels, BP’s statements have been far less concrete. While the scope of yesterday’s spill is clearly a tiny fraction of the Kalamazoo disaster, it’s still not clear what type and how much oil made its means into Lake Michigan from the refinery. A day later, we still don’t know/p>

It is that lack of transparency that drives environmentalists and government decisionmakers alike loopy. The public needs to know what has made its manner into their drinking water sources and whether or not it’s being adequately cleaned. Sure, federal regulators must do better: press calls to USEPA have been routed directly to BP to reply.

But in the end, this lack of transparency is wholly unacceptable.

It is why a spill like this one, whether or not massive or small, will continue to garner nationwide headlines.

And that’s the type of habits that may keep BP Whiting the refinery Chicagoans like to hate. As the rest of the country catches on, it ought to spur a transfer to get serious about ending our dangerous addiction to oil—and all the damaging initiatives like Keystone XL which can be designed to delay that motion.

BP Whiting with Chicago within the background by J. Henry Fair.

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