BP legally allowed to dump mercury into Lake Michigan. Kid tested, government approved.
Faced with public outrage and congressional pressure, the oil company BP vowed six years ago to develop cutting-edge technology that could sharply reduce toxic mercury discharged into Lake Michigan by its massive refinery about 20 miles southeast of downtown Chicago.
BP enlisted scientists at Argonne National Laboratory and the Purdue-Calumet Water Institute to come up with methods that company officials said could set a model for factories and sewage treatment plants throughout the Great Lakes region. But despite promising results from two options tested, a new draft permit from Indiana regulators allows BP to avoid installing the mercury-filtering equipment at the Whiting refinery.
Under the terms of an earlier decision by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, the BP refinery can legally discharge an annual average of 23.1 parts per trillion of mercury — nearly 20 times the federal water quality standard for Great Lakes polluters. The proposed new permit would allow that special exemption to continue indefinitely.