More on the BP Whiting Refinery, Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) and the refinery's wastewater discharges to and water intakes from Lake Michigan.......
This matter addresses a renewal of the wastewater permit for the refinery, which is increasing its utilization of heavy sour tarsand synthetic crude delivered to Whiting, IN through Enbridge Line 67 to Superior, WI and then south around the southern end of Lake Michigan.
PUBLIC HEARING - EAST CHICAGO, IN - JUNE 4, 2013
NEW PUBLIC COMMENT PERIOD DEADLINE - JUNE 14, 2013
See this link for a copy of Friday's IDEM public notice and the location/time of the public hearing in East Chicago, IN.
IDEM's web page on the BP Refinery renewal permit actions for both 2013 and 2007:
Four days after the Natural Resources Defense Council, Alliance for Great Lakes and
four other groups filed a 42 page comment at Monday's comment period deadline about the IDEM Draft NPDES wastewater discharge permit for the BP Whiting Petroleum Refinery......IDEM re-noticed the BP permit matter and scheduled a public hearing in
a public notice published Friday afternoon.
At this writing no one knows for sure why IDEM did the re-notice and the public hearing
announcement as these were not actions requested by the environmental coalition
of Lake Michigan and Clean Water Act stewards. It is unknown whether
IDEM did it on its own initiative, or whether BP or EPA Region V requested the public hearing and/or re-opening of the public comment period. Certainly what IDEM did with the announcement on Friday is unusual to happen in the world of state wastewater discharge permitting and public participation under the Federal Clean Water Act.
The comments filed by the environmental coalition identified several significant problems with IDEM's Draft National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Permit for the the BP Whiting [IN] Refinery. The comments identified several defects in both BP's submittals and in IDEM's permit issuance decision that constitute serious breaches of Federal Clean Water Act permit issuance requirements.
The BP Refinery Permit is one of the most important industrial wastewater discharge permits for effluents released to Lake Michigan. The BP Whiting Refinery has had certain process unit expansions and is going from about a 30-35% proportion of
tar sands synthetic crude to a 90+% tar sands synthetic crude utilization rate. The refinery processes 420,000 barrels of crude feedstock per day.
In the process, BP is increasing 10 different pollutant effluent concentrations in their waste discharged to Lake Michigan through a 'diffuser' - an end-of-discharge-pipe effluent dilution device which IDEM allowed BP to install in Lake Michigan after the 2007 permit was issued in an attempt by BP to meet Great Lakes Water Quality Standards using the physical dilution method. In 2007, IDEM allowed BP to use the dilution method without requiring BP to submit a demonstration required under EPA wastewater regulations for sources attempting to use dilution schemes to comply with water quality standards. By using the dilution scheme, BP freed itself of effluent limitations that it had to meet under the present permit when IDEM failed to impose required technology-based effluent limitations that are a predicate to being allowed such dilution methods.
The specific pollutant effluents to Lake Michigan that BP is increasing over 2006
effluents are selenium, sulfate, total dissolved solids, chlorides, arsenic, lead,
manganese, strontium, copper and vanadium. Except for vanadium, all of the
pollution effluents that are increasing are unregulated under terms of the 2013 draft IDEM permit. And because of the manner in which IDEM's antidegradation rules are written, BP is being allowed to cause these increased effluents and loads to Lake Michigan without going through any antidegradation review process under Indiana rules.
BP has also never reported any nitrate compound effluents on its EPA-required Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) reports when it discharges over 300,000 lbs of nitrate effluents to Lake Michigan every year. Neither the current permit nor the IDEM-proposed Draft Permit contain any effluent limitations for nitrates.
Here is the link for NRDC Senior Attorney Ann Alexander's blog on
the BP NPDES renewal matter:
Here is the link for the enviro-coalition comments from NRDC, AGL, Save the Dunes
and others....warning -- 9+ MB PDF file and long download:
Conduct your own aerial inspection of the BP Whiting Refinery, including its process equipment, tank farms and its lakeside wastewater treatment plant built on a fill in Lake Michigan:
1:40 PM PT: In publishing this diary the reader is advised that I am writing as a significant participant in the IDEM/BP Whiting Refinery discharge permit matter as I have performed paid environmental consulting work authorized by the Alliance for Great Lakes water quality program in addressing the BP NPDES permit application and the IDEM Draft Permit. This means I'm writing as an issue participant and not as an uninterested blogger on this particular diary. My ethical professional obligations require these disclosures to the diary reader for proper context and transparency.
2:19 PM PT: Here is a report from the U.S. EPA Enforcement and Compliance Online system for the BP Whiting Refinery:
5:06 PM PT: Here is a 2011 EPA Toxic Release Inventory Report for the BP Whiting Refinery; note that BP didn't report any effluents of nitrate compounds, which it discharges in considerable amounts: