WBEZ | BP http://www.wbez.org/tags/bp Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Emanuel wants answers on BP oil spill http://www.wbez.org/news/emanuel-wants-answers-bp-oil-spill-109925 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Whiting-spill.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Although BP&rsquo;s Whiting refinery is a short distance from the city of Chicago, it is firmly in the state of Indiana and answers to that state and its agencies. But that&rsquo;s not stopping Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel from asking for a full report on this week&rsquo;s oil spill to be given to the city and the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;ll expect a full accounting to the public and the city of Chicago of the damage that was done, how much, what the clean up efforts were, how comprehensive they have been and what actions the company will take to ensure this doesn&rsquo;t happen again,&rdquo; Emanuel said Wednesday while announcing a plan to invest $671 million to upgrade the city&rsquo;s water infrastructure.</p><p>A BP spokesman said this week it appears crude oil somehow seeped into the refinery&#39;s water filtration plant that&rsquo;s adjacent to the lake. Indiana Department of Environmental Management spokesman Dan Goldblatt told WBEZ Wednesday that unconfirmed reports put the amount of spillage at about a dozen barrels of crude oil.</p><p>BP has raised its estimate of how much oil spilled into Lake Michigan. The company said Thursday a preliminary estimate shows between 15 and 39 barrels of oil have been recovered from the lake at its Whiting refinery.</p><p>A barrel of oil can produce about 42 gallons of gasoline, so potentially 1,638 gallons of oil spilled into Lake Michigan. Earlier estimates had pegged the amount at 10 to 12 barrels of oil.</p><p>The spill was detected around 4:30 p.m. Monday. By 9 p.m. a representative with the U.S. EPA said it appeared the leak had been stopped. Cleanup continued Wednesday along the shore of a small private beach between the refinery and its neighbor ArcelorMittal Steel Company.</p><p>&ldquo;BP continues to make progress in responding to an incident Monday at the Whiting Refinery. Crews have recovered the vast majority of oil that had been visible on the surface of a cove-like area of Lake Michigan and on the shoreline between the refinery and a nearby steel mill,&rdquo; BP announced Wednesday from its US Press Office based in Houston. &ldquo;They have used vacuum trucks and absorbent boom to contain and clean up the surface oil. Responders also manually collected oil that had reached the shore.&rdquo;</p><p>BP said monitoring continues with the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. EPA and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management.</p><p>&ldquo;BP and federal agencies are assessing the shoreline to determine what, if any, next steps are required in the response,&rdquo; a company statement said. &ldquo;BP continues to work to calculate the amount of oil discharged into the lake. This work involves estimating how much oil was released into the refinery&rsquo;s cooling water system, water treatment plant and ultimately into the lake.&rdquo;</p><p>According to the U.S. EPA, its Shoreline Cleanup Assessment Team inspected the shoreline today for three hours to assess the presence of oil and to recommend cleanup techniques as required.</p><p>&ldquo;The team saw minimal oiling of the shoreline and recommended a small manual removal crew conduct maintenance along the shoreline,&rdquo; the U.S. EPA said in a news release. &ldquo;Weather and wind conditions improved overnight allowing teams to once again secure boom.&rdquo;</p><p>Sources involved in the cleanup say the crude oil that spilled into the lake was a combination of so-called sweet crude (from domestic sources) and crude from Canada&rsquo;s Tar Sands region, which is considered heavier and dirtier. The tar sands oil is a source of contention among environmentalists.</p><p>&ldquo;A spill like this one, whether big or small, will continue to garner national headlines. And that is the sort of behavior that will keep BP Whiting the refinery Chicagoans love to hate,&rdquo; Henry Henderson, Midwest program director of the Chicago office for the Natural Resources Defense Council, wrote in a blog post.</p><p>So far, no Indiana or Northwest Indiana public official have made statements regarding the spill. BP represents a major source of jobs and property taxes for Northwest Indiana, and the company just recently completed a $4 billion modernization of the more than 100 year old Whiting refinery.<br /><br />But BP often has been on the receiving end of scathing comments by Illinois officials.</p><p>Lately, Mayor Emanuel, Gov. Pat Quinn and U.S. Senator Dick Durbin have taken the company to task for transporting thousands of tons of pet coke, short for petroleum coke, to a site on Chicago&rsquo;s Southeast side. Residents there have complained about the dust-like substance making them sick when it becomes airborne.<br /><br />Some city officials want the substance completely banned though so far Emanuel is only pushing an ordinance that would severely restrict the use and storage of pet coke. But with the new oil spill BP is under the microscope again.</p><p>&ldquo;I want to make sure that BP is a good corporate citizen next door in Indiana,&rdquo; Emanuel said.</p><p>And, at least for now, BP is responding.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;ve been engaged with the mayor&rsquo;s office since the onset of this incident and are providing his office with regular updates, &ldquo; BP spokesman Scott Dean told WBEZ Wednesday night. &ldquo;We will also continue to keep the public and relevant authorities informed as we investigate this matter.&rdquo;</p><p><em>This post was updated on March 28, 2014.</em></p></p> Thu, 27 Mar 2014 08:05:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/emanuel-wants-answers-bp-oil-spill-109925 BP contains oil spill in Lake Michigan, begins cleanup http://www.wbez.org/news/bp-contains-oil-spill-lake-michigan-begins-cleanup-109914 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/puente whiting.PNG" alt="" /><p><p>WHITING, Ind. &mdash; BP says it has contained and is now cleaning up crude oil that spilled into Lake Michigan&nbsp; from its Whiting, Indiana refinery near Chicago.</p><p>The spill was detected about 4:30 Monday afternoon.</p><p>Reminiscent of the tar balls collected off the Gulf Coast after a different BP spill a few years ago, this one was confined to a shallow cove between the massive refinery and a steel mill.</p><p>BP spokesman Scott Dean said it appears the crude oil somehow seeped into the refinery&#39;s water filtration plant adjacent to the lake.</p><p>&ldquo;We were able to quickly deploy our oil spill response contractor and we&rsquo;ve seen the leak stopped yesterday and we&rsquo;ve got a containment boom in place that&rsquo;s holding the amount of oil that was released from the discharge into this cove,&rdquo; Dean said.</p><p>Dean said there have been no injuries, and cleanup activities along the 2,700 feet of affected shore line are still going on.</p><p>&ldquo;The good news is the leak stopped and we&rsquo;ve got it contained,&rdquo; Dean said.</p><p>Dean said the cold temperature of the lake and air may have actually aided in containing the oil, turning the crude oil into like a gel-like substance.</p><p>But questions remain about how the crude oil got into the lake in the first place.</p><p>BP just completed a $4 billion modernization to the 100-year-old Whiting Refinery, the largest inland refinery in the United States.</p><p>Sources helping with the cleanup estimate about a dozen barrels of crude spilled into the lake, with some containing what&rsquo;s considered sweet crude oil and some containing oil from Canada&rsquo;s tar sands region.</p><p>After discovering the discharge, BP notified the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. EPA and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management. Representatives from the agencies were at the refinery Monday evening.</p><p>BP says it will continue to work in full cooperation with the agencies to ensure the protection of personnel, the environment and surrounding communities.</p><p>The U.S. EPA says is unaware of any other spills from the refinery.</p><p>Mike Beslow, the onsite coordinator for the EPA at the scene, said the oil spill should not affect the quality of Lake Michigan&rsquo;s drinking water.</p><p>He says it appears the oil was released from one of BP&rsquo;s separators into the lake.</p><p>Beslow says the separator is like a holding pond and normally does not have oil in it.<br />He adds that BP&rsquo;s own systems immediately detected oil that got into the water filtration plant and into the lake.</p><p>Beslow says it&rsquo;s too early to determine if any fines will be assessed against BP for the spill.</p></p> Tue, 25 Mar 2014 13:38:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/bp-contains-oil-spill-lake-michigan-begins-cleanup-109914 KCBX defends pet coke operation on Chicago's Southeast side http://www.wbez.org/news/kcbx-defends-pet-coke-operation-chicagos-southeast-side-109199 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Pet coke (1).jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Bowing to pressure from residents, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency will not approve a construction permit for KCBX Terminals Inc. In recent weeks the company has been at the center of a controversy over its handling of the ash-like substance known as &ldquo;pet coke.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;After the overwhelming response, and in recognition of the various legal and regulatory deliberations still taking place, the IEPA has decided to not issue the construction permit to KCBX this week,&rdquo; Illinois EPA Director Lisa Bonnett said in a written statement Tuesday. &ldquo;The Illinois EPA will continue working with the community and other government officials to ensure that a comprehensive solution is reached that will protect human health and the environment.&rdquo;</p><p>Bonnett&rsquo;s announcement came on the heels of a Tuesday morning protest by a dozen Southeast side residents who oppose KCBX because of the pet coke dust they say has been polluting their neighborhood. Huge piles of pet coke are stored on KCBX property along the Calumet River. The black powdery dust is a byproduct of refining crude oil and often used as a cheap fuel in overseas markets.</p><p>Bonnett spoke Tuesday morning before the Union League Club of Chicago where a handful of residents arrived beforehand with makeshift signs chanting &ldquo;Pet coke makes us choke!&rdquo; The IEPA director said she met with the protesters following her speech.</p><p>Tom Shepherd, who works with the Southeast Side Environmental Task Force, was among them.</p><p>&ldquo;Our area is getting dumped on. The folks are upset over it. It&rsquo;s a blight on our neighborhood. It&rsquo;s dangerous, it&rsquo;s toxic, it&rsquo;s polluting our area. And we&rsquo;ve pretty much had enough of it,&rdquo; Shepherd said.</p><p>KCBX is already facing two lawsuits filed in recent weeks; One filed by four Southeast side residents and another by the Illinois Attorney General. Tuesday&rsquo;s action to deny KCBX an approval for its construction permit is likely to do little to stop operations at the company.</p><p>Laurie C. McCausland, deputy general counsel for Koch Companies Public Sector, LLC., the parent company of KCBX, says the permit was simply to move conveyor belts from one facility to another.</p><p>In a sit down meeting with WBEZ Tuesday, McCausland provided KCBX&rsquo;s first response to the pet coke dust storm that engulfed the Southeast side and South Deering neighborhoods in late August during a major thunderstorm. McCausland wasn&rsquo;t ready to admit that the dust storm came from KCBX&rsquo;s property.</p><p>&ldquo;I do understand that there was a very significant wind event. I do understand that visually there was a dust storm. What that was...I have no idea.&rdquo; McCausland said.</p><p>McCausland said at the time of the dust storm, a new $10 million, state-of-the-art automated dust suppression system was not yet in place at its South facility at 10730 South Burley Avenue, a plant surrounded by homes. In fact, the new system only came on line two weeks ago.</p><p>It involves 42 water cannons, up from six, oscillating on 60-foot-high poles. The cannons are supposed to douse the pet coke piles with up to 1,800 gallons of water per minute to keep it from blowing away.</p><p>McCausland says the system can anticipate wind speed and wind direction and if the conditions are right for a storm. The water sprayed on the piles is collected into two retention ponds on site. She said the system was operating Sunday when much of the Chicago area experienced heavy winds and rain.</p><p>&ldquo;With the system we have in place today, if we have another wind event, we hope to have a very good experience,&rdquo; McCausland said. &ldquo;We think this new system is going to provide very good protection for this product. We&rsquo;re two weeks in and we kind of want to see how it works. We&rsquo;re hopeful that it&rsquo;s going to provide good protection.&rdquo;</p><p>McCausland, who is based in Wichita, Kansas, emphasized KCBX&rsquo;s long relationship with the Southeast side. KCBX has operated its North facility there for more than 20 years.</p><p>In December, KCBX, owned by the wealthy Koch Brothers, purchased its South facility previously owned by DTE Chicago Fuels Terminal. The company employs about 40 workers. In July, the City of Chicago issued a construction permit to allow it to begin installing its dust suppression system, according to the company.</p><p>McCausland said the company stores both coal and pet coke, which reaches its property by truck from BP&rsquo;s refinery in nearby Whiting, Indiana. BP processes about 2,000 tons of pet coke every day. Once it&rsquo;s new advanced coker is brought on line in the coming months, BP will process up to 6,000 tons of pet coke every day. BP contracts with KCBX Terminal to store the pet coke, which eventually is sent to other markets via barge.</p><p>McCausland said she did not know if KCBX will handle all of BP&rsquo;s new pet coke production. She says hugh piles at the site may have developed since workers were moving some of the pet coke to clear other areas of the company&rsquo;s property. Overall, she said, the product is safe.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s unfair for people to be overly scared about this product,&rdquo; McCausland said. &ldquo;I think people just don&rsquo;t have a lot of information.&rdquo;</p></p> Wed, 20 Nov 2013 10:03:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/kcbx-defends-pet-coke-operation-chicagos-southeast-side-109199 Attorney General Madigan files lawsuit against Koch brothers’ firm http://www.wbez.org/sections/water/attorney-general-madigan-files-lawsuit-against-koch-brothers%E2%80%99-firm-109079 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/AP120209138862 (1).jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The Illinois Attorney General&rsquo;s office filed a lawsuit Monday against KCBX Terminal Co. of Chicago, for allegedly releasing pet coke on the city&rsquo;s far Southeast side.</p><p>The suit was filed in Cook County Circuit Court.</p><p>Natalie Bauer, spokeswoman for Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, says the lawsuit is intended to get KCBX to keep the dust-like substance from flying into homes and businesses around the Calumet River.</p><p>&ldquo;The piles of refinery waste at this site are growing by the day without the appropriate protections to ensure nearby residents&rsquo; health and safety,&rdquo; Madigan said in a written statement. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s critical that KCBX quickly installs safeguards to protect the surrounding community.&rdquo;</p><p>KCBX Terminals is a subsidary of Koch Industries. The attorney general&#39;s lawsuit was filed on behalf of the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, which is investigating KCBX and other firms with ties to the company.</p><p>The company is contracted by oil giant BP to store tons of pet coke, a by-product from refining crude oil.&nbsp;Pet coke, short for petroleum coke, is often used as a low cost fuel in overseas markets.&nbsp;</p><p>BP trucks in the pet coke from its refinery in Whiting, Indiana, a short distance from the Southeast side.</p><p>According to the lawsuit, the company receives coal by rail, truck, barge or vessel and stores it in large, uncovered piles on its 90 acre property.</p><p>The coal is believed to be coming from local steel manufacturers. The pet coke and coal ash is virtually indistinguishable from each other but is very ash-like and can float into the air. &nbsp;</p><p>Between December 2012 and last August, KCBX had six 35-foot high water sprinklers to control dust in the southwest portion of the site and one 8,000 gallon water truck to control dust from the pet coke.&nbsp;The attorney general alleges that KCBX &ldquo;threatened or caused&rdquo; emission of dust from the pet coke and coal piles due to unloading and loading of the substance.</p><p>On Aug. 30, &ldquo;a visible cloud of black dust from the petroleum coke and coal located at the site was observed off-site blowing into the surrounding residential neighborhood,&rdquo; the lawsuit states.</p><p>The dust, also known as particulate matter, can get into people&rsquo;s eyes, can be inhaled and threatens human health. The lawsuit orders KCBX to undertake all necessary corrective action to prevent the release of the dust.</p><p>The attorney general says KCBX could be subjected to civil penalties of $50,000 for each violation of pollution laws and an additional penalty of $10,000 a day for each violation.</p><p>KCBX declined comment on the lawsuit filed by Madigan&rsquo;s office but referred to its original statement from last month when residents began to complain about the dust.<br />.<br />&ldquo;KCBX Terminals Co. has handled various bulk products, including pet coke, in Chicago for more than 20 year,&quot; the statement said. &quot;In December of 2012, KCBX acquired the Chicago Fuels Terminal from DTE Energy Co. We are in the final stages of constructing more than $10 million in upgrades, including improvements to the dust suppression capabilities. KCBX puts a priority on regulatory compliance and managing operations in a manner that protects the health and safety of employees, the community, and the environment</p><p>The Attorney General&rsquo;s lawsuit comes on the heals of four Southeast side families filing a lawsuit against KCBX and several other defendants who are owned by Koch Industries or are assisting KCBX with the handling of the pet coke and coal.</p><p>In addition, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency filed a complaint last week against Beemsterboer for failing to cover its own piles of ash and for not filing necessary reports with the state.</p><p>Beemsterboer is based in Hammond, Indiana and has been in business for 70 years, mostly handling steel slag, another byproduct in the steelmaking process that is often used in concrete.</p><p>Beemsterboer officials have not responded to repeated attempts for comment.</p><p><em>Follow WBEZ reporter Michael Puente&nbsp;<a href="http://twitter.com/MikePuenteNews" target="_blank">@MikePuenteNews</a>&nbsp;and on&nbsp;<a href="https://www.facebook.com/pages/WBEZ-Northwest-Indiana-Bureau/701257506570573?ref=br_tf" target="_blank">Facebook</a>.</em></p></p> Tue, 05 Nov 2013 10:39:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/sections/water/attorney-general-madigan-files-lawsuit-against-koch-brothers%E2%80%99-firm-109079 Southeast Side residents fuming over pet coke ash http://www.wbez.org/news/southeast-side-residents-fuming-over-pet-coke-ash-109007 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/ash.PNG" alt="" /><p><p><em>Updated 4:30 p.m. CST</em></p><p>People living on Chicago&rsquo;s far Southeast Side are used to living with factories and the environmental hazards that come with them. But now some residents have a new concern: a thick black, powdery dust known as &ldquo;pet coke.&rdquo;</p><p>Carrying signs and chanting &ldquo;What do we want? MOVE THE PILE!&rdquo; more than a hundred residents of Chicago&rsquo;s Southeast Side and South Deering neighborhoods showed up at the Wolfe Park fieldhouse Thursday evening. They were seeking answers about the huge mountains of pet coke that recently started piling up on barges along the Calumet River. A byproduct of crude oil refining, the powdery petroleum coke can potentially be blown into the air.</p><p>Residents complained of ash covering their homes and said that children who played outside some days would come in scratching their eyes. Other residents pointed to one particularly bad incident of airborne pet coke following a big thunderstorm in late August. Pictures of the storm show black particles darkening the sky.</p><p>The neighborhood of working class poor, many of whom are Latino and black, has long been home to heavy industry. And large piles of black ash aren&rsquo;t uncommon says resident Kate Koval.</p><p>But she says what&rsquo;s happening now is on a different scale.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s really getting everywhere. People are worried about their health. And now we learn we&rsquo;re going to get a lot more of it,&rdquo; said Koval, who is a native of nearby Whiting, Indiana. Koval is organizing informational meetings for the community with assistance from the Southeast Environmental Task Force.</p><p>Whiting is home to one of the largest oil refineries in America. Owned by BP, the company is nearing the completion of a $4 billion, 5-year modernization of the 100 year-old refinery.</p><p>Once done, BP will switch from processing mostly sweet crude oil from the Mideast to much dirtier tar sands oil from Canada. BP officials say the refinery is following all provisions of the Clean Air Act and adhering to Indiana environmental laws, which would require it to cover the piles if it were on its large property in Whiting. The company has invested millions in an indoor processing facility to handle its pet coke byproduct. It has enough room to store collected pet coke for up to a week.</p><p>But the large black mounds of pet coke being stored along the Calumet River aren&#39;t ultimately BP&rsquo;s responsibility.</p><p>BP spokesman Scott Dean confirmed that the oil giant contracts with KCBX Terminal to store much of its pet coke.</p><p>&quot;In the energy industry, you need to rely on third party terminal operations for storage. Just like an oil field, just because demand slows down, you don&rsquo;t shut down the oil field,&quot; Dean told WBEZ on Friday. &quot;You expect your third party contractors to obey all local rules and regulations. As far as I can tell, they are. It&#39;s their facility. they are responsible for the operations of it.&quot;</p><p>Dean says the company now produces about 2,000 tons of pet coke every day, but will soon be allowed to process up to 6,000 tons per day under a new permit from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management. Some of it is stored on its Whiting facility until it is trucked to KCBX Terminal sites. He says pe tcoke and coal ash from local steel mills or coal-fired generating stations have been stored at KCBX for years.</p><p>&quot;We&#39;ve used those storage facilities in the past. That area has been used for coal-ash storage. This is nothing new,&quot; Dean said.</p><p>Dean says it only deals with KCBX Terminal for pet coke storage, not Beemsterboer Slag Corp., adjacent to KCBX. But KCBX may have a contract with Beemsterboer to store some of the petcoke on its facility.</p><p>KCBX is owned by Koch Industries, the large privately-owned company run by Charles and David Koch. The Koch brothers are known for supporting conservative political causes that question climate change.</p><p>Neither company made officials available at last night&rsquo;s meeting to answer residents&rsquo; questions, but Dean says BP was not invited.</p><p>In a statement, KCBX spokesman Paul Baltzer said that the company &quot;has handled various bulk products, including pet coke in Chicago, for more than 20 years.&quot; As for the specific site along the Calumet River, the statement continued: &quot;We are in the final stages of constructing more than $10 million in upgrades, including improvements to the dust suppression capabilities.&quot;</p><p>Alderman John Pope, D-10th, says he hasn&#39;t had a chance to meet with the firm in recent weeks to see what can be done to minimize the blowing of the ash. Pope says he knew the ash would be coming to the neighborhood but didn&rsquo;t know in what quantities or that there would be such problems.</p><p>&ldquo;I knew that there was going to be an increase,&rdquo; Pope, who attended the Thursday meeting, said. &ldquo;If the material can come and it can be contained, I don&rsquo;t think it will be an issue. But can it be contained? The idea is to minimize it. Apparently, there&rsquo;s too much of it right now.&rdquo;</p><p>Dean says the pet coke is still a viable product and often shipped to China or Mexico. In some places, it&#39;s used as a coal substitute for power generation.</p><p>&quot;There is a domestic market for it but increasingly it&#39;s going overseas by barge,&quot; Dean said.</p><p>He says BP trucks its pet coke to KCBX Terminal. However, he cannot confirm that photos showing large mounds of the &quot;coal ash-like&quot; product are from BP since other companies may ship similiar ash to KCBX Terminal.</p><p>&quot;I can&rsquo;t tell if it&#39;s ours and I don&rsquo;t think anyone can. We do have a contract, we are sending our pet coke to that facility. I&rsquo;m not going to play coy with you; some of that pet coke is ours,&quot; Dean said. &quot;We&rsquo;re the big generator of this coal-like product right now. I have no reason to not believe that a lot of it is ours.&quot;</p><p>Josh Mogerman, of the Natural Resources Defense Council of Chicago, also attended the meeting. Mogerman says pet coke dust isn&rsquo;t just a problem for the Southeast side.</p><p>&ldquo;This is an problem that we&rsquo;re going to have to deal with nationally. We&rsquo;re using more and more of this tar sands crude. This problem is going to pop up in a lot of neighborhoods around the country,&rdquo; Mogerman said.</p><p>But for residents of the Southeast Side, the problem may get worse before it gets better.</p><p>&ldquo;BP hasn&rsquo;t even turned on its (new) coker yet. There&rsquo;s going to be 6,000 tons of this stuff streaming out of the refinery everyday,&quot; Mogerman said. &quot;It&rsquo;s incumbent upon BP to figure out to figure out how to deal with this problem. It&rsquo;s incumbent upon the Koch brothers and KCBX to make sure the products they are moving does not impact public health. There&rsquo;s enough blame to go around.&rdquo;</p><p>In the meantime, residents are documenting the ongoing pet coke issues and have been in contact with the Illinois Attorney General&rsquo;s office and the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.</p><p><u5:p></u5:p></p><p>IEPA spokesman Andrew Mason said in a statement: &quot;Current Illinois environmental regulations already require operations like KCBX to have fugitive dust control programs in place and IEPA has been working with the company since it took over the facility last year to ensure its plan is strengthened.&quot;<u5:p></u5:p><o:p></o:p></p><p>Natalie Bauer, spokeswoman for the Illinois Attorney General, says the office is investigating the complaints.</p></p> Fri, 25 Oct 2013 10:54:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/southeast-side-residents-fuming-over-pet-coke-ash-109007 Indiana takes tougher stance on BP http://www.wbez.org/sections/energy/indiana-takes-tougher-stance-bp-108769 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/BP 6.JPG" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr">The Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) on Wednesday set new mercury discharge limits for BP&rsquo;s massive Whiting, Indiana refinery located just outside Chicago.</p><p dir="ltr">The stricter limits will force BP to reduce its mercury discharges into the lake every year by about one-third.</p><p dir="ltr">Under the current rules, BP&rsquo;s mercury discharges must not exceed 23 parts per trillion. The new guidelines reduce that amount to 8.75 parts per trillion. It will go into effect on Nov. 1.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;It&rsquo;s a significant drop but the technology exists for them to do it,&rdquo; IDEM spokesman Dan Goldblatt told WBEZ today.</p><p dir="ltr">BP spokesman Scott Dean countered that the technology IDEM is talking about hasn&rsquo;t been tested in the real world.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;These technologies are promising but we do need to see how they work year round in a variety of weather and operating conditions,&rdquo; Dean told WBEZ. &ldquo;This is a very, very challenging permit limit and it could be difficult to meet but we&rsquo;re going to try our best.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">The new technologies were developed by BP in collaboration with the Argonne National Labs in suburban Chicago and the Water Institute at Purdue University Calumet in Hammond.</p><p dir="ltr">IDEM is actually forcing BP to work with the entities to make sure its mercury discharges comply with the Clean Water Act.</p><p dir="ltr">The effort came about in 2007 after BP announced its $4 billion modernization of the century-old Whiting Refinery in order to process heavier and dirtier Canadian crude oil.</p><p dir="ltr">A public outcry from Chicago politicians and environmental groups followed when it came out that BP&rsquo;s mercury discharges would exceed federal limits.</p><p dir="ltr">Since then, BP says it will continue to &ldquo;try&rdquo; to meet the reduced limits.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;BP is committed to protecting Lake Michigan and we are cautiously optimistic that our recent investment in new water treatment equipment will further reduce the Whiting Refinery mercury discharge,&rdquo; Dean said. &ldquo;Having said that, the mercury limit in the revised permit has decreased by more than half and 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.</p><p dir="ltr">But Goldblatt says there is no trying.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;They can say they&rsquo;ll try all they want, they will have to meet it,&rdquo; Goldblatt said. &ldquo;If not, they&rsquo;ll be in violation of the Clean Water Act.</p><p dir="ltr">He continued, &ldquo;Fines are always an option.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Goldblatt declined to say how much the fines would amount to.</p><p dir="ltr">Ann Alexander, lead attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council in Chicago, gives IDEM credit for getting tough on BP, something it hasn&rsquo;t always done in the past.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;The new permit is somewhat of a pleasant surprise, albeit still a mixed bag. &nbsp;While IDEM did not do everything we asked here, it adopted some of our key requests, and made modest but significant changes. Overall, the language of the agency&rsquo;s response to our comments reflects a newfound spirit of willingness to take our input seriously,&rdquo; Alexander said in a written statement.</p><p dir="ltr">Alexander says IDEM should require BP to use the developing technology. She also takes issue with the way mercury discharge from the refinery is actually calculated .</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;The State of Indiana must address the health and well-being of Hoosiers and those of us in neighboring states impacted by the potential for wholesale dumping of toxins into the source of drinking water for millions,&rdquo; Alexander stated. &ldquo;While we remain deeply concerned that the tar sands expansion at the Whiting refinery has happened at all, these small steps in the right direction by IDEM affords some cautious optimism that environmental regulators can be brought around to recognize that stringent controls on pollution from refining tar sands crude are imperative. &nbsp;We can hold out hope that IDEM&rsquo;s more cooperative tone reflects the shape of things to come.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr"><em>Follow WBEZ NWI bureau reporter Michael Puente on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/MikePuenteNews">@MikePuenteNews</a> and on <a href="https://www.facebook.com/pages/WBEZ-Northwest-Indiana-Bureau/701257506570573">Facebook</a>. &nbsp;</em></p><div>&nbsp;</div></p> Wed, 25 Sep 2013 17:18:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/sections/energy/indiana-takes-tougher-stance-bp-108769 Why does Chicago still have such high gas prices? http://www.wbez.org/news/why-does-chicago-still-have-such-high-gas-prices-107356 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Chicago gas explainer.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>It&rsquo;s Memorial Day weekend, which means more people are hitting the road...and slapping their foreheads when they see the price at the pump. Especially in Chicago.</p><p>According to a <a href="http://www.lundbergsurvey.com/csp_c.aspx" target="_blank">recent Lundberg Survey</a> the price of a gallon of gasoline in the United States rose sharply in the last two weeks because of outages at Midwest and West Coast refineries</p><p>But gas prices in Chicago are often higher than the rest of the country. Higher than New York, Los Angeles &mdash; even Hawaii.</p><p>But why? Chicago isn&rsquo;t far from oil-rich Canada and there&rsquo;s a huge refinery right next door.</p><p>Even longtime Chicagoans don&rsquo;t seem to know why gas is so expensive in the city.</p><p>&quot;I don&rsquo;t know? I think people in high office do what they want and we just have to go with the flow,&rdquo; said Kuri Roundtree, who pulled into a BP gas station at Roosevelt and Wabash in the South Loop earlier this week. &ldquo;I think it&rsquo;s ridiculous. It costs me $70 dollars to fill up my SUV. I&rsquo;m sure I&rsquo;m not the only person complaining about this gas. All of my family members hate going to the gas station.&quot;</p><p>Finding the answer to Chicago&rsquo;s expensive gas mystery is actually not that obvious.</p><p>&ldquo;Chicago is unique for a few different reasons. Even prices outside our region could be going down while our prices are going up,&rdquo; said Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst for GasBuddy.com.</p><p>DeHaan says many factors that help set gas prices for the entire country are simply out of our control. For starters, the sky high price of crude oil on the global market.&nbsp; Thanks to demand in Asia, turmoil in the Middle East and good ol&rsquo; Mother Nature &mdash; like the flooding we experienced earlier this month.</p><p>&ldquo;There&rsquo;s nothing really to fix,&rdquo; DeHaan said. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s just the way the free market works with gasoline. Prices go up and down.&rdquo;</p><p>Still, if you live in Chicago, it&rsquo;s usually up.</p><p>Another reason for this is the process of refining the crude oil before it gets to the pump.</p><p>There are four refineries that generally serve the Chicago market, including BP&rsquo;s massive refinery in nearby Whiting, Indiana, right across the state border.</p><p>The Whiting refinery has been around longer than there have been automobiles. It was part of John D. Rockefeller&rsquo;s Standard Oil empire in the late 1800s. Of course, it&rsquo;s more expensive now to refine crude oil than it was back then primarily because of environmental regulations.</p><p>You&rsquo;ve probably heard about the cleaner burning &ldquo;summer blend&rdquo; that the Environmental Protection Agency requires for cities like Chicago.</p><p>&ldquo;Summer gasoline, or gasoline with a different RVP, is a different formulation. You can&rsquo;t use some of your lighter ends, such as your butanes to add to the volume of the gasoline, because it would evaporate out in the higher temperatures so it is more expensive in the summer,&rdquo; said BP Whiting senior spokesman Scott Dean.</p><p>Unfortunately for Chicago&rsquo;s gas customers, the city&rsquo;s close proximity to the BP Refinery doesn&rsquo;t help much in keeping costs down. Dean says that&rsquo;s not how wholesale pricing works.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s called the rack price,&rdquo; Dean said. &ldquo;The rack price is what the tanker truck driver who may be representing any number of companies, will go, will get the fuel, will pay whatever the rack price of what they&rsquo;ve agreed to. And, the retailer will then determine the final price that they sell on the street.&rdquo;</p><p>Customers may also have a desire to blame gas station owners for the high price of gasoline. But Beth Mosher, spokeswoman for AAA Chicago Motor Club, says it&rsquo;s not their fault.</p><p>&ldquo;Everybody wants to take it out on their local gas station owner why these prices are so high,&rdquo; Mosher said. &ldquo;But the reality is when the prices are this high the profit margins for these gas stations are so thin, they are going to make more from a bag of doritos that they are selling you than they are the gas.&rdquo;</p><p>Mosher says the final factor for high gasoline prices can be pinned on the tax man.</p><p>&ldquo;First and foremost, we have to talk about the high taxes in Chicago,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;About 70 cents on the gallon is what people pay in Chicago for gas taxes, really, really a high number, especially given the statewide average is 49 cents on the gallon.&rdquo;</p><p>Those figures can fluctuate, but that means generally 70 to 90 cents for every gallon of gas pumped in Chicago goes to taxes.</p><p>For example, if gas costs $4.67 a gallon that means 18 cents goes to the federal government; 43 cents for the state. And if you live in Chicago, tack on another 33 cents for Cook County and the city.</p><p>That includes sales and motor fuel taxes, the latter of which goes to pay for roads and bridges and some of the capital projects.</p><p>Although increasingly that money is being diverted to pay for things like pensions.</p><p>Another factor that hits wallets particularly hard is the way all levels of government in Illinois levy sales tax on gasoline purchases. The state of Illinois alone charges 6.25 percent sales tax. Twenty years ago when gas was much cheaper that meant just pennies on the dollar. But now that can be an extra 20 cents or more per gallon since the higher the gas price, the more taxes you pay.</p><p>&ldquo;Most states don&rsquo;t do that. Most states tax only based per unit, per gallon if you will. So, even if the cost goes up, the amount of tax you pay does not go up in terms of your overall cost,&rdquo; said John Tillman, Chief Executive Officer for the Illinois Policy Institute, based in downtown Chicago.</p><p>Last summer, the Institute called for the state sales tax to be changed so it&rsquo;s based on the number of gallons purchased, and not the price. The proposal fell on deaf ears in Springfield.</p><p>Still, if prices aren&rsquo;t coming down anytime soon, what are drivers supposed to do?</p><p>Well, for one thing, we can buy less gas.</p><p>&ldquo;We urge people not to wait for the government to do things but start consolidating your trips and take the L or the Metra train if that&rsquo;s a possibility to you,&rdquo; Mosher said. &ldquo;Do things on your own to start getting better gas mileage out of your car.&rdquo;</p><p>But even if you buy that fuel efficient hybrid or an electric car, drivers still might not be out of the woods when it comes to paying higher gas taxes.</p><p>Lawmakers in Springfield are talking about boosting motor fuel taxes to make up the lost revenue from fuel-efficient cars that use less gas. They may even impose fees on the fuel-efficient vehicles themselves to help fund road repairs.</p><p>One supporter of this proposal is Doug Whitley, president and CEO of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce.</p><p>Whitely is also co-chair of the <a href="http://tficillinois.org/" target="_blank">Transportation for Illinois Coalition</a> which has been in Springfield pushing an increase to Illinois&rsquo; motor fuel tax. Although with only one week remaining in the state&rsquo;s spring schedule, he says most lawmakers are focused on issues like pensions, conceal-carry and same-sex marriage.</p><p>&ldquo;The state&rsquo;s capital program to fund construction for roads, bridges and transit falls off the cliff next year. That fiscal cliff we heard about in Washington also exists in Springfield,&rdquo; Whitely told WBEZ this week.</p><p>Whitely explained that the state&rsquo;s fiscal program that started in 2009 will expire in the next fiscal year.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;There&rsquo;s discussion of how to keep capital dollars flowing to the state and local government and the transit districts so they can continue to build, maintain and modernize and handle their construction needs,&rdquo; Whitely said.</p><p>Whitely said one proposal garnering a lot of attention is the idea of abolishing Illinois&rsquo; 19 cent motor fuel tax and establishing a new sales tax on fuels. A similar plan was just implemented in Virginia.</p><p>&ldquo;The motor fuel tax was last increased 23 years ago and there&rsquo;s no growth in that tax in large part because of the mile-advantages of today&rsquo;s more fuel efficient cars can take advantage of,&rdquo; Whitely said. &ldquo;We already have cars getting 50 miles to the gallon and electric cars, so the motor fuel tax isn&rsquo;t putting the money into the road fund to support construction.&rdquo;</p><p>Another idea is to levy new taxes or registration fees on hybrids and electric cars directly.</p><p>&ldquo;If you have an electric car, you&#39;re really getting away to use the roads but not having to pay much for them,&rdquo; Whitely said.</p><p>Whitely is sympathetic to Chicago area residents who already pay a lot of taxes on gas. &ldquo;But if you want to continue to have transportation systems that are modern, efficient, clean and safe, there&rsquo;s going to be a cost related to that,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>&ldquo;The bottom line is, there is no free lunch.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-393eb71c-d7eb-292a-bd1c-de35c9fd58e4"><em>Michael Puente is WBEZ&#39;s Northwest Indiana bureau reporter. Follow him on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/MikePuenteNews">@MikePuenteNews.</a></em></p></p> Fri, 24 May 2013 13:04:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/why-does-chicago-still-have-such-high-gas-prices-107356 First tainted Gulf, now tainted gas for BP http://www.wbez.org/blogs/marcus-gilmer/2012-08/first-tainted-gulf-now-tainted-gas-bp-102079 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AP071025065989.jpg" title="BP is at it again. (AP/Charles Dharapak) " /></p><div class="image-insert-image "><p><strong>Lead story:</strong> Oh, BP. It&rsquo;s okay. Really. By now, everyone&rsquo;s forgotten all about that teensy little oopsy-daisy you had in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. You know, the little spill wherein you dumped an <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/29/us/bp-feared-gulf-oil-spill-rate-of-3-4-million-gallons-a-day.html">estimated 206 million gallons</a>&nbsp;of crude oil into a delicate ecosystem? Wherein the <a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-02-23/bp-oil-spill-haunts-gulf-business-owners-almost-two-years-after-disaster.html">economic effects linger</a> (but thanks for <a href="http://blog.al.com/live/2010/06/apologetic_bp_oil_spill_ads_ge.html">those ads</a>!) as does the threat of <a href="http://www.wlbt.com/story/19413041/isaac-could-stir-up-remnants-of-the-bp-oil-spill">oil churning up</a> every time a hurricane comes by? I mean, sure, it&rsquo;s understandable you&rsquo;d be nervous after that. But I wouldn&rsquo;t worry. No one will get <em>that</em> upset about you <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/breaking/chi-bp-releases-list-of-stations-that-sold-tainted-gas-20120829,0,7287506.story">selling 4.7 million gallons of tainted gas</a>&nbsp;in Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin. That&rsquo;s way less than before! It&rsquo;s a good thing you&rsquo;re finding oil in other places,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.ogj.com/articles/2012/08/bp-ieoc-make-nile-delta-shallow-gas-discoveries.html">like the Nile Delta</a>. Who needs the Nile Delta anyway? Not Gulf of Mexico wildlife or fuel injectors, am I right?</p><p><strong>Also:</strong> The defense in the Drew Peterson case <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/chi-drew-peterson-trial-updates-son-to-take-stand-today-20120829,0,7102187.story">has rested</a>, meaning the jury could soon get the case, and then we&rsquo;d be all done with this thing one way or another, right? Wrong.&nbsp;While Peterson himself <a href="http://www.suntimes.com/14802637-761/drew-peterson-wont-testify-in-his-trial-on-murder-charges.html">will not testify</a> at the trial, depending on how the jury finds, we won&rsquo;t be done with this thing for a while. A guilty verdict will only mean lenghty appeals. The prosecution&#39;s anctis&nbsp;&mdash;&nbsp;as well as that hearsay law&nbsp;&mdash;&nbsp;give the defense plenty of grist for that fight. A not guilty verdict means the prosecution will up their attempts to peg the Stacy Peterson murder on Drew, too, something that&#39;s hard to do without a body. The most fun outcome of all also feels the most likely: a mistrial. Then we get to do this dance all over again.</p><p><strong>And then: </strong>So now that the Chicago Teachers Union has <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/teachers-union-files-strike-notice-keep-contract-talks-moving-102072">made their ten-day strike announcement</a>, what comes next? First of all, a lot of tense waiting for parents over the next week. The strike notice means teachers could strike at the end of next week, but it&#39;s also a tactic they could use to force the city&#39;s hand to fire up negotiations. Said negotiations have been going on since last November. And while it&#39;s been 25 years since the last teacher&#39;s strike in Chicago, parents are obviously <a href="http://www.suntimes.com/14806044-761/chicago-parents-fret-what-to-do-if-teachers-go-on-strike.html">still worried about what they&#39;ll do </a>if the strike does happen. Two seemingly movable forces are now primed for a fight that has an endpoint; it&#39;s just a matter of who&#39;ll blink first.</p><p><strong>Farewell:</strong> Tennis star Kim Clijsters,&nbsp;<a href="http://sports.yahoo.com/news/matches-book-quickly-us-open-074059863--ten.html">who retired from the sport</a> after a loss at the U.S. Open Wednesday. The four-time Grand Slam event winner (three U.S. Open titles, one Australian Open title) knew it&#39;d be her last tournament going in. And while a second-round loss isn&#39;t exactly what she had in mind, she walks away one of the great hardcourt players of the last decade.</p><p><strong>Elsewhere</strong></p><ul><li>Hurricane Isaac moved ashore &mdash; slowly &mdash; and has weakened to a tropical depression. But the <a href="http://www.nola.com/hurricane/index.ssf/2012/08/pricetag_of_isaac_totals_more.html">clean-up is just beginning</a> in Southeast Louisiana, where early estimates <a href="http://www.nola.com/hurricane/index.ssf/2012/08/isaac_storm_surge_close_to_kat.html">put the storm&rsquo;s surge</a> almost on par with that of Katrina.</li><li>Paul Ryan had his moment in the spotlight at the GOP convention Wednesday night, accepting <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/30/us/politics/paul-ryan-accepts-republican-vice-presidential-nomination.html?_r=1&amp;hp">the vice presidential nomination</a> while delivering a speech that <a href="http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/article/2012/aug/29/night-two-tampa-running-mate-and-more/">set fact checkers on fire</a>.</li><li>Meanwhile, President Obama proved he&rsquo;s the nerdy dad we suspected, taking to popular Internet forum Reddit <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-08/president-barack-obama-went-reddit-and-answered-dorkiest-questions-ever-102065">for an AMA (Ask Me Anything) session</a>. It&rsquo;s pretty great to see a President embracing the Internet like this even if his answers were bland and predictable.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</li><li>Remember the controversy over opening Wal-Mart stores in Chicago a few years back? Now that they&rsquo;re springing up across the city, <a href="http://cheezburger.com/6550728960">this little animation</a> shows how they&rsquo;ve spread across the entire country. Watch and try not to think of a plague spreading.</li><li>Outer space science continues to amaze as we now know that <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-19408363">gravity waves can be seen</a>.</li></ul><p><br /><strong>Looking ahead</strong></p><ul><li>A Chicago Police officer <a href="http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2012/08/29/chicago-police-officer-shot-in-morgan-park/">was shot in the knee</a> while responding to a call last night in Morgan Park; his injuries aren&rsquo;t life-threatening. It&rsquo;s a sobering reminder of the number of police officers <a href="http://chicagoist.com/2010/07/08/police_officer_killed_outside_stati.php">killed</a> or injured in the line of duty in Chicago in recent years.</li><li>Even Alderman aren&rsquo;t spared during this violent year. James Cappleman (46<sup>th</sup>) has reportedly been attacked <em>twice</em> now, most recently by a <a href="http://www.suntimes.com/14805402-761/ald-cappleman-i-was-chased-by-woman-with-knife.html">knife-wielding woman</a>.</li><li>Another round of trash pick-up changes <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/city-implement-next-phase-garbage-collecting-plan-north-side-102057">has been announced by the city</a>.</li><li>File under &ldquo;good news, maybe?&rdquo; &mdash; you&rsquo;ll soon be able to <a href="http://abclocal.go.com/wls/story?section=news/local/illinois&amp;id=8790635">buy Powerball tickets online</a> in Illinois.</li><li>The biggest will-they-or-won&rsquo;t-they of the GOP convention: <a href="http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local/Ronald-Reagan-Hologram-to-Speak-at-RNC-167906195.html">the Reagan hologram</a>. Except it&rsquo;s not because <a href="http://blogs.wsj.com/speakeasy/2012/08/29/digital-domain-ceo-says-theres-no-hologram-reagan-in-the-works/">the &ldquo;news&rdquo; is satire</a>.</li></ul><p><br /><strong>Sports</strong></p><ul><li>A bunch of Notre Dame players have gotten in trouble but Allen Pinkett <a href="http://espn.go.com/chicago/ncf/story/_/id/8314224/allen-pinkett-notre-dame-fighting-irish-need-bad-citizens-win">thinks that can be a good thing</a> because if anything can turn a collegiate sports team around, it&rsquo;s arrests.</li><li>Well, there&rsquo;s been at least one good thing about the Cubs this year and that&rsquo;s Darwin Barney&rsquo;s <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/baseball/cubs/chi-barney-sets-nl-single-season-record-for-errorless-streak-at-second-20120829,0,138112.story">record-setting defensive performance</a>.</li><li>It&rsquo;s official: the NFL <a href="http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2012/08/29/nfl-to-use-replacement-officials-for-week-1/">will use replacement refs for at least Week One</a> of the regular season. As if officiating couldn&rsquo;t get any worse&hellip;</li><li>The battle between the NHL players union and the league continues as the two sides <a href="http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2012/hockey/nhl/08/29/nhl-labor-talks.ap/index.html?sct=hp_t2_a9&amp;eref=sihp">try to reach an agreement</a> on a new labor deal and sidestep another lockout for the league.</li><li>Were juiced balls partially<a href="http://deadspin.com/5937432/was-mlbs-juiced-era-actually-a-juiced+ball-era">&nbsp;to blame</a> for the explosion of home runs during MLB&rsquo;s so-called &ldquo;steroids era&rdquo;?</li></ul><p><br /><strong>Finally</strong></p><p><em>The Daily Show</em> correspondent Samantha Bee absolutely crushes it at the GOP convention.</p></div><div style="background-color:#000000;width:520px;"><div style="padding: 4px; text-align: center; "><iframe frameborder="0" height="288" src="http://media.mtvnservices.com/embed/mgid:cms:video:thedailyshow.com:418445" width="512"></iframe></div><p>&nbsp;</p></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 30 Aug 2012 09:09:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/marcus-gilmer/2012-08/first-tainted-gulf-now-tainted-gas-bp-102079 A lot at stake for BP in Whiting expansion http://www.wbez.org/story/lot-stake-bp-whiting-expansion-95709 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2012-January/2012-01-20/BP 2.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Just beyond Chicago’s southern border is Whiting, one of the smallest cities in Indiana with about 5,000 residents. But you’d never know it these days. That’s because thousands of construction workers descend upon the “Little City on the Lake” every day to head to the BP Refinery. The facility’s 100 years old now and is getting a multi-billion dollar makeover. There’s a lot at stake for BP’s finances and it’s environmental cred.</p><p>Remember when Soldier Field got its fancy makeover? Think about all the work that went into remodeling that stadium. They removed old seats, replaced the field, and put up a new scoreboard.</p><p>Now, imagine if all that happened while the Bears were playing and the fans were hooping it up and the tailgaters were in the parking lot. It would have been business as usual, except with dangerous machinery and construction workers all around. Well, that’s pretty much what’s happening at BP’s Whiting Refinery.</p><p>MOYE: We’re building the 6th largest refinery in North America inside the 4th largest refinery while it’s actually operating. That brings a lot of complexities to it and makes it a very exciting time.</p><p>That’s Dave Moye, BP’s Lakefront complex operation specialist in Whiting.</p><p>MOYE: A new refinery hasn’t been built in the U.S. since the 1970s I think. So, this is a significant modification to a refinery.</p><p>Moye’s a got a lot to back up that boast. BP’s expansion project will cost $3.8 billion, which makes it the largest private investment in Indiana history. Moye and other BP supervisors already keep track of their own 1,900 employees, but now they’re managing another 9,000 construction workers. And soon ... they’ll manage 1,000 more.</p><p>The size and scale of BP’s expansion project is hard to wrap your head around, so to get a better idea of it, I went on a tour. A process engineer named Ryan O’Leary was one of my guides.</p><p>O'LEARY: You can tell there’s a tremendous amount of activity around here. Contractors in and out. This is some of the heaviest construction in the area. Just here in our view, six, seven cranes. This will be carrying through in the next year.</p><p>O’Leary was quick to show off a lot of engineering muscle that’s gone into this, but he stopped to remind me several times that there’s more at stake for BP than just a makeover, or even short-term profits.</p><p>O’LEARY: This project gives us a future in the area that is defined, it is long term. It is a key project for BP’s sustainability in the United States and the world.</p><p>This is no exaggeration. BP’s environmental cred has been on the line because of that big oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. But you might recall that this modernization project has already attracted environmental scrutiny. Five years ago, BP announced that the Whiting facility would refine a lot more heavy Canadian oil - a stickier, thicker kind of crude.</p><p>But when BP sought permits from the state of Indiana, environmental groups and Illinois congressmen stepped in. They worried the plant would release more mercury and ammonia pollution into Lake Michigan. And these critics hit the airwaves with radio ads and other tactics to stop the Whiting project.</p><p>BP felt the pressure, so it pledged to keep pollution going into Lake Michigan at current levels, even though the Whiting plant would be bigger and process dirtier oil. That environmental fight was several years ago. Now, the work of keeping BP’s environmental promises comes down to people like Ramachandra Achar, a water treatment specialist.</p><p>ACHAR: The mercury issue is a very significant technological challenge though. Much more difficult than any other that we have really faced in the past.</p><p>In fact, BP says it’s dedicating about $1 billion to cut down on mercury and other pollutants. That means one of every four dollars in the expansion project is for water treatment.</p><p>One reason for the big outlay is that BP is forced to used equipment that’s unique or nearly so. For example, it’s brine treatment unit is the first of its kind to be used in the U.S., and only the second worldwide. BP is also testing merging technologies – technologies that are not fully developed.</p><p>It’s getting help from<a href="http://webs.purduecal.edu/pwi/"> Purdue University Calumet’s Water Institute in Hammond</a> and <a href="http://www.anl.gov/">Argonne National Laboratory</a> in Chicago’s western suburbs. Dr. Cristina Negri researches pollution controls for Argonne. She’s helping to find technologies for BP to lower the amount of mercury that’s released into Lake Michigan.</p><p>NEGRI: The problem there is the concentrations are very tiny, very small. The technologies that were available had really were not been tested at those concentrations.</p><p>Negri says the nice thing is BP is taking on large-scale real world tests at the refinery. If the mercury pollution controls work, they might help other industries, or even city water treatment facilities release less mercury into the environment.</p><p>NEGRI: I think you won’t find anywhere else a study that’s so broad as far as mercury goes. You’re talking between us and Purdue we tested some 40 some technologies. It’s a lot.</p><p>Scientists and engineers aren’t the only people interested in whether BP can pull off an expansion, while keeping pollution in check. Envionrmental groups and local residents are, too.</p><p>Thomas Frank lives in East Chicago near the Whiting Refinery. Frank says it’s good BP’s spending so much money on environmental controls, but the expansion’s still not worth the risk.</p><p>FRANK: It shows there’s a dedication. They are going to try to leverage funds that they know there’s a problem. We have a hundred years of industrial legacy that is meant we are sitting on the most polluted waterway in the country (Indiana Harbor and Ship Canal) , it means our land is considered the most polluted and our airshed is the 9th most polluted in the country. The BP project adds to that complexity and the concentration of industry right here.</p><p>Frank’s sentiment is getting heard by BP officials, even ones at the top. Recently, the CEO, Bob Dudley, visited Chicago to talk about BP’s environmental record. It so happens Dudley’s a local guy. He grew up in west suburban Hinsdale, and he’s familiar with Whiting, Indiana.<br> Dudley took over BP after the Gulf Oil spill of 2010.</p><p>DUDLEY: Our reputation was in tatters. We had experienced a massive loss of public trust. We knew we had a responsibility to embed the lessons from this accident across BP worldwide. But in light of what had happened. We’ve committed to reinforcing our safety and risk management procedures globally everywhere.</p><p>Dudley told Chicago business people that the Whiting Refinery modernization is one example of how BP wants to get on track with cleaner technology. But, of course, that’s only a prediction right now. The BP refinery project won’t be done until the fall of 2013.</p></p> Fri, 20 Jan 2012 21:32:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/lot-stake-bp-whiting-expansion-95709 Daniels takes shots at Northwest Indiana, Chicago in new book http://www.wbez.org/story/daniels-takes-shots-northwest-indiana-chicago-new-book-92244 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-September/2011-09-21/AP110430148095.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels has been successful at politics. So much so that many Republicans wanted him to seek their party’s nomination for president. He declined last spring.</p><p>So, there's no acclaim for Daniels as a presidential candidate. But … accomplished author?</p><p>That’s still a possibility.</p><p>On Tuesday, Daniels released his book, <em>Keeping the Republic: Saving American by Trusting Americans</em>.</p><p>The book mostly comprises suggestions of how the U.S. can cure its debt problems. Many of Daniels suggestions cite instances of how he helped Indiana turn around.</p><p>But Daniels uses a few pages to take aim at Northwest Indiana, a region that has a decades-long loyalty to the Democratic Party. In one passage, Daniels writes about his futile attempt to make inroads in the region by bringing jobs.</p><p>“Culturally close to Chicago in both economics and politics, and with a reputation for governmental corruption and labor union aggression, our northwest corner is a place employers are more likely to flee than invest in,” Daniels writes.</p><p>Daniels is also critical of Chicago-area politicians for nearly thwarting the $4 billion expansion at BP’s Refinery in Whiting.</p><p>Concerns erupted in 2007 over possible increased pollution into Lake Michigan. Daniels writes environmental regulators on the state and federal level signed off on BP’s plans.</p><p>But he said that didn’t stop Chicago politicians from criticizing the plan.</p><p>“Even though the new plant would produce less pollution than the previous one, even though our environmental agency had meticulously dotted every ‘i’ in issuing the necessary permits, and even though the federal EPA had then approved the issuances, all hell broke loose,” Daniels writes. “Chicago politicians of both parties began competing to see who could do the best Green Preen, who could bluster the loudest and act the toughest with BP and with Indiana. With a blindfold on, you could tell from their rhetoric that these people were from Chicago.”</p><p>Daniels writes that had the project been planned for Illinois, similar fallout would not have happened.</p><p>“Hypocrisy was not an obstacle. If the jobs had been on the Illinois side of the border, you can bet the press would have come to a different conclusion,” Daniels writes. “The City of Chicago was (and is) depositing fifty times more ammonia into the water than the BP expansion would. Ammonia does no harm, by the way; fish excrete it, too, and it biodegrades quickly, but why let ninth-grade science get in the way of a hot press release? The BP plant emissions would be way under the EPA’s allowable limits, which are always set with a gigantic margin of safety to start with.”</p><p>Daniels says BP made some costly —&nbsp;but “environmentally meaningless” — changes to the project, which continues today.</p><p>Daniels is making the rounds to promote his new book, making stops throughout Indiana, but so far not in Northwest Indiana.</p></p> Thu, 22 Sep 2011 00:53:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/daniels-takes-shots-northwest-indiana-chicago-new-book-92244