WHITING, Ind. (AP)
Carbon monoxide emissions from the BP PLC (BP.LN) oil refinery in Lake County will rise significantly under a final draft air pollution permit that's due to receive public review soon, a report said.
BP officials told The Times of Hammond, Ind., that carbon monoxide, a major contributor to ground-level ozone, will be the only pollutant to increase under the new permit. Breathing ozone can trigger a variety of health problems and can worsen others, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The draft permit is being reviewed by BP officials and should soon be opened to public comment, managers of the oil giant said in an interview with The Times.
Meanwhile, BP will seek no changes in its controversial wastewater permit to appease critics, Stan Sorrels, BP's manager for health, safety, security and environment, told the newspaper.
The wastewater permit, which will govern the release of pollutants at the refinery under a $3 billion expansion, allows the oil giant to increase the amount of ammonia it dumps into Lake Michigan by 54 percent and the amount of suspended solids by 35 percent. It has been fiercely opposed by politicians in Illinois and some environmental groups.
"We have a water permit we think is a good water permit, and we need it to run the refinery," Sorrels said.
BP officials would not say when they expect to complete the review of the draft air permit. It must be made available for public comment and receive approval from the EPA and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management before construction can begin.
The air permit requires BP to apply the latest EPA standards to its emissions, Sorrels said.
The expansion will triple the refinery's use of heavy crude oil from Canadian tar sands. That oil is thicker and more difficult to process than the bulk of the crude the refinery currently handles.
"It is heavy crude, so we are adding a lot of new process heaters, and with those come emissions out of those stacks," Sorrels said.
Dan Murray, IDEM's assistant commissioner for air quality, said that because the expansion will increase carbon monoxide emissions more than 100 tons per year, BP must use the best available technologies to lessen the amount and impact of the emissions.
Emissions data on IDEM's Web site shows the refinery emitted 2,055 tons of carbon monoxide in 2003, the most recent year for which data is available.
The public and the EPA will have at least 30 days to comment on the draft air permit. Those comments then are reviewed by IDEM, which then can make changes to the permit.
BP wants to begin construction in the first or second quarter of 2008, Sorrels said. The expansion will not be fully operational until 2011.
The air permit also will set allowable levels for particulate matter, volatile organic compounds, nitrous oxides and sulfur dioxide. Murray said the draft permit calls for emissions of some of those pollutants to increase and some to decrease.
Ted Krauss, BP's project director for the Canadian Crude project, told The Times that the company remains committed to the $3 billion expansion because it will mean a sustainable future for the Whiting refinery and the thousands of jobs it supports.
"We raise our families here, we drink the lake water, ... so it's one of our values is not to harm the environment," Krauss said.
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