Having learning nothing from the Gulf disaster, BP allows crude oil to pour into Lake Michigan

BPlakemichi

It looks like our friends at BP are up to their old tricks again. This time, though, the oil being spilled isn’t in the Gulf of Mexico, where the company’s cost-cutting measures in 2010 led to the largest oil spill in recorded history, but in Lake Michigan, the largest repository of fresh water on the surface of the Earth. The spill happened last night at the BP refinery in Whiting, Indiana, where the company processes crude oil from Canadian tar sands. A spokesman for the Indiana Department of Environmental Management told reporters that the leak was stopped by 1:00 AM this morning, but it’s still unclear how much crude oil was released into Lake Michigan.

When asked how much oil had been dumped into Lake Michigan, according to the Chicago Tribune, BP spokesman Scott Dean “declined to say.”

I’m not sure how a company can get away with not answering a question like, “How much poison did you pump into the drinking water of 7 million Chicagoans?,” but I guess, when you’re BP, you can do what you want. If we made nothing else clear after the Deepwater Horizon disaster, it’s that we don’t hold corporations responsible for their actions, regardless of how egregious they may be.

As of right now, it’s too early to say just how bad this is. It could, I suppose, be relatively minor by oil spill standards. Given that the Whiting refinery processes 405,000 barrels per day, though, it could also be incredibly bad for the health of the Great Lake, and the future of our planet.

Worst of all, this is our doing. We had an opportunity after the Deepwater Horizon disaster to hold BP accountable and push for substantial changes. We, however, chose to take them at their word. And now we’re paying the price.

One last thing… If the Whiting refinery sounds familiar, it’s because we’ve discussed it here before. Here are two clips from those earlier posts.

Paying the environmental price for the fuck-ups of other states:

…I would think that we here in Michigan might have a case against the state of Indiana, which, if you can believe it, just gave BP the go-ahead to dump more ammonia and toxic, heavy metal sludge into Lake Michigan. Here’s a clip from the Chicago Tribune:

“The massive BP oil refinery in Whiting, Ind., is planning to dump significantly more ammonia and industrial sludge into Lake Michigan, running counter to years of efforts to clean up the Great Lakes.

Indiana regulators exempted BP from state environmental laws to clear the way for a $3.8 billion expansion that will allow the company to refine heavier Canadian crude oil. They justified the move in part by noting the project will create 80 new jobs.

Under BP’s new state water permit, the refinery — already one of the largest polluters along the Great Lakes — can release 54 percent more ammonia and 35 percent more sludge into Lake Michigan each day. Ammonia promotes algae blooms that can kill fish, while sludge is full of concentrated heavy metals.”

Indiana continues to allow BP to dump toxic mercury into Lake Michigan… spelling doom for mankind:

…(I)t’s not hard to see how this happens, given that BP buys politicians… Here, with more on that, is a quote from our friend Juan Cole: “The Indiana legislature passed these laws because of ‘legislative capture.’ That phenomenon occurs when an industry that is supposed to be regulated by a legislature instead pays so much for political campaigns that it captures the members and proves able to write the legislation affecting its interests. Legislative capture explains almost everything that is wrong with America today, from the wars to the difficulty in expanding health care, and from inaction on climate change to the high price of prescription drugs.”

The irony is, at this very moment, the leaders of BP America live their lives without fear while our country devotes its considerable resources to finding Edward Snowden and brining him to justice… I don’t know about you, but I think it’s time that we reevaluate our definition of “treason.”

And, lastly, here’s a little something that I shared on Facebook last summer about the Whiting plant. (For what it’s worth, I wasn’t joking.)

Screen shot 2014-03-25 at 10.13.08 PM

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9 Comments

  1. Posted March 25, 2014 at 9:46 pm | Permalink

    Michigan League of Conservation Voters:

    Great Lakes and oil don’t mix. Oil spill in Lake Michigan yesterday. Largest inland oil spill in US history in the Kalamazoo River in 2010 (still being cleaned up). Line 5 beneath the Straits of Mackinac pumping tar sands crude oil down to Detroit. The Marathon Oil refinery in Detroit storing (in the open air) tons of petroleum coke (or petcoke) along the shores of the Detroit River. This is bad news every step of the way.

  2. anonymous
    Posted March 26, 2014 at 8:14 am | Permalink

    BP’s fourth quarter profit in last year was $2.8 billion. That’s pure profit – money that could be reinvested in redundant safety systems, etc.

  3. John Galt
    Posted March 26, 2014 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    Just be patient. The free market will solve everything.

  4. Eel
    Posted March 26, 2014 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    Headline in today’s New York Times: “Pollution Killed 7 Million People Worldwide in 2012, Report Finds”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/26/world/pollution-killed-7-million-people-worldwide-in-2012-report-finds.html

    Quote:

    From taxi tailpipes in Paris to dung-fired stoves in New Delhi, air pollution claimed seven million lives around the world in 2012, according to figures released Tuesday by the World Health Organization. More than one-third of those deaths, the organization said, occurred in fast-developing nations of Asia, where rates of cardiovascular and pulmonary disease have been soaring.

    Around the world, one out of every eight deaths was tied to dirty air, the agency determined — twice as many as previously estimated. Its report identified air pollution as the world’s single biggest environmental health risk.

    “The big news is that we have a better understanding of how large a role air pollution plays in strokes and coronary heart attacks,” said Dr. Carlos Dora, coordinator of public health and the environment at the organization. “Given the astronomical costs, countries need to find a way to prevent these noncommunicable diseases.”

    The report found that those who are most vulnerable live in a wide arc of Asia stretching from Japan and China in the northeast to India in the south.

    Exposure to smoke from cooking fires means that poor women are especially at risk, the agency said

    Indoor air pollutants loomed as the largest threat, involved in 4.3 million deaths in 2012, while toxic air outdoors figured in 3.7 million deaths, the agency said. Many deaths were attributed to both.

    Breakneck urbanization in the developing nations of Asia, especially China, is a major force contributing to the air pollution problem.

  5. John Galt Jr.
    Posted March 26, 2014 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    Leave BP alone. The CEO deserves to have his life back.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/06/01/bp-ceo-tony-hayward-video_n_595906.html

  6. Meta
    Posted March 26, 2014 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

    Rumor is that it was about 500 gallons.

    Dan Goldblatt, spokesman at the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, told ThinkProgress that his office was notified at about 4:30 CDT Monday of an oil sheen, which EPA officials said on a press call Thursday totaled about 5,000 square yards, on Lake Michigan. Mike Beslow, On-Scene Coordinator for the EPA, said that when he visited the site around 9 p.m. Monday, the sheen was no longer visible. Neither Goldblatt nor EPA officials had information on how much oil had spilled, but CBS, citing unnamed sources, reports that between 10 and 12 barrels — around 500 gallons — spilled into the lake.

    Read more:
    http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/03/25/3418808/oil-leaks-lake-michigan

  7. Elf
    Posted March 26, 2014 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

    Believe me, if the refinery were next to the home of BP’s CEO, and there was a chance of a single drop getting in his pool, there would be multiple redundant systems.

  8. Groundhog Day
    Posted March 28, 2014 at 11:07 am | Permalink

    News Flash- “BP more than doubles estimate of Lake Michigan oil spill”

    It’s now over 1,600 gallons.

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/chi-bp-oil-spill-lake-michigan-20140327,0,7519350.story

  9. Captain Picard
    Posted April 2, 2014 at 8:12 am | Permalink

    I thought that it was time that I weigh in.

    http://imgur.com/cdM5ql0

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