Whiting Refinery, owned by BP plc (ADR) (NYSE:BP), has spilled more than five times the allowed quantity of suspended industrial solid waste into Lake Michigan. The incident happened after the refinery encountered an operational problem on Friday.
While the permissible amount is only 5,694 pounds per day of industrial waste, BP dispelled 8,932 pounds, following which it informed the Indiana Department of Environmental Management. A second test on Tuesday showed that the energy giant had actually spilled around 26,621 pounds of suspended solids in the river.
Michael Abendhoff, spokesperson of the company stated: “The BP Whiting Refinery is responding to an upset at the refinery’s wastewater treatment facility. This is a wastewater issue; there has been no leak or discharge of any hydrocarbons into Lake Michigan.”
The energy giant is working at the refinery to resume normal operations as soon as possible. According to an IDEM representative, Courtney Arango, BP is trying to upgrade its wastewater treatment project to filter waste more effectively. Progress of the waste water plant is being monitored on a daily basis.
Fortunately, the spill has had no impact on drinking water, human or sea life. This comes as a relief for environmentalists, residents, and visitors to the Whihala Beach County Park. According to Ms. Arango: “All Hammond and Whiting beaches are sampled seven days a week.” Presently, the beaches are open and no abnormalities in the water quality or appearance has been reported yet.
This is not the first time that the London based energy giant has come under the spotlight. Following the Gulf of Mexico spill after the BP-owned Macondo well blow-out, the company had to pay huge sums in liabilities. In addition, BP has been in the headlines owing to the Whiting Refinery permits that allow it to dispel 1,036 pounds of ammonia in Lake Michigan per day.
Amid all this negativity, it is imperative that BP should solve the operational issue at the refinery soon and take adequate measures in the future to prevent any such wastage spill. Having recently come out of the deadly costs incurred after the oil spill 2010, the company would not want to face more damages in oil spills.
Separately, issues at the Whiting Refinery have caused gas prices to surge since it is the largest in the refinery. However, we believe it is too soon to judge whether there would be any impact of the wastage spill on gas prices.