Monday, 23 July 2007

BP fights back against "misleading" article

British energy giant BP has launched a PR fightback against a US newspaper article it claims "misrepresented important facts" about a major upgrade at one of its oil refineries.

The Chicago Tribune paper reported on an expansion at the BP Whiting Refinery in Indiana, where the company's planning to spend $3.8 billion upgrading its refinery to process more crude oil from Canada into gasoline, diesel and jet fuel (to rely less on the volatile Middle East).

But the Tribune article reads as being fiercely anti-industrial and somewhat misleading, claiming BP is planning to dump "significantly more ammonia and industrial sludge into Lake Michigan". The report says Indiana regulators "exempted BP from state environmental laws" because the project will inject money and create new jobs.

However, a BP factsheet argues water released from its refinery into Lake Michigan is not sludge but 99.9% treated water (with all 'sludge' treated and released elsewhere). The company admits the expansion will mean an increase in ammonia discharge, but says it will still be under half the legal limit.

Along with the environment exemption, BP have agreed to install new equipment to reduce the concentration of pollutants in the water. The company says it has already been voluntarily improving its water discharge, and will spend $150 million upgrading the refinery's wastewater treatment capability.

BP insists it's committed to minimising the environmental impact of their actions, and points out modernisation of the plant will create about 2,000 new contract jobs during the construction period, and 80 new full-time BP jobs in Whiting once the project is completed.

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