IDEM: BP's Whiting Refinery Repeatedly Dumps Too Many Pollutants Into Lake Michigan

Sep 13, 2016

BP's Whiting refinery is one of the largest in the Midwest.
Credit Josh Mogerman / https://www.flickr.com/photos/jmogs/14142287984

The Indiana Department of Environmental Management is considering a penalty against BP's large refinery in the Lake County town of Whiting.

The Indiana Department of Environmental Management could fine BP up to $25,000 for each of the three violations. 

The BP Whiting Refinery operates along the shore of Lake Michigan. The refinery is permitted to discharge up to 5,700 pounds of wastewater pollutants into the lake every day. The pollution is a combination of scum, debris, and wastewater from normal refining operations.

This summer, it discharged more than that amount three times.

The latest violation included more than 26,000 pounds of waste—more than five times what’s allowed.

IDEM’s Hala Kuss says the agency began inspecting the refinery after hearing from BP in July.

“The agency received a courtesy notification from BP that they were experiencing issues at their wastewater treatment plant,” Kuss says.

Lake Michigan is the main drinking water water supply in the area, but IDEM is not concerned these spills pose a health risk to residents.

IDEM is giving BP a chance to respond to the allegations of all three illegal discharges before leveling a the corresponding fines.

BP did not respond to a request for comment.