The Air I Breath: BP Cited for High Benzene Releases
[ Post Trib ]
By Gitte Laasby, Post-Tribune staff writer (The only legitimate Environmental Reporter in the Region)
For nearly six years, BP’s Whiting refinery emitted cancer-causing benzene at its wastewater treatment plant without proper air pollution control equipment, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
There is a saying “You are what you eat.” But what about what you breath or drink?
What bothers me intensely about this report is that the USEPA allowed these releases to continue for six years before citing BP on such an egregious violation the of the Clean Air Act. That is six years to which MY NEW BORN CHILDREN were chronically exposed. And the USEPA knew every day that they were being exposed and did NOTHING. This is a toxin that we know one part per billion can cause cancer.
Additionally, during the permitting process for the BP Expansion these past several years the USEPA never disclosed these violations, but defended and promoted BP’s clean record of good environmental stewardship in the region. Consequently, East Chicago awarded BP $165 million in tax abatements. All while the EPA held evidence that BP was exposing the residence to such high levels of toxins.
UPDATE (On the Wire):
WASHINGTON | Members of Congress’ Great Lakes Caucus are asking the Environmental Protection Agency to review all of BP’s emissions after reports that the BP Whiting Refinery has been violating clean air standards.
In a letter, 18 members of Congress from Illinois, New York, Wisconsin and Michigan asked EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to closely examine BP’s emissions.
BP’s facility in Whiting is the largest oil refinery in the Midwest. Its critics say it also is a large source of pollution in the Great Lakes region.
Members of the caucus tell Jackson that the Great Lakes are “the crown jewel of our nation” and should be protected. They say the EPA should ensure that BP fully complies with the environmental protection laws and permits.
The EPA on Tuesday cited the Whiting Refinery for violating federal air standards by releasing a cancer-causing toxin in waste from 2003 to 2008, which at times reached 16 times the acceptable limit, EPA officials said.
I find it curious that there are no East Chicago Elected Officials asking for answers? Our Mayor and City Council represent the health and welfare of Citizens of East Chicago who live under the plumb of BP’s violations. And where is the voice of the City’s Health Commissioner on this issue? Of any population East Chicagoan’s are the most exposed and their children the most vulnerable – not the Residents of Illinois, Wisconsin or Michigan. And yet their representatives understand the gravity of the violation and the threat it poses to the health and welfare of the populations they represent. They are the ones asking for answer while East Chicago and Northwest Indiana Elected Officials remain silent.
Why the Silence?
This is a serious violation of the clear Air act and our Elected Officials ought to be associated with the asking for answers.