BP will not raise discharge limits at Whiting refinery

By OGJ editors
HOUSTON, Aug. 24 -- BP America Inc. on Aug. 23 promised to operate its 399,900 b/cd Whiting, Ind., refinery to meet the lower discharge limits specified in its previous wastewater treatment permit. BP's pledge came after a new, recently approved permit, which allows for higher discharge limits, met with regional opposition.

"We will not make use of the higher discharge limits in our new permit," said BP America Chairman and Pres. Bob Malone.

The new permit allows BP to increase discharge limits to 1,584 lb/day from 1,030 lb/day for ammonia and to 4,925 lb/day from 3,646 lb/day for total suspended solids (TSS). The permit is associated with a $3.8 billion upgrade project that would enable BP's Whiting refinery to increase processing capacity for Canadian heavy crude to 90% from 30% and creates the capacity to increase production of clean fuels by 1.7 million gal/day.

Malone said if BP determines that the refinery cannot operate after the heavy crude project is implemented and still meet the lower discharge limits, the company will develop a project to allow it to do so.

He explained, however, that "if necessary changes to the project result in a material impact to project viability, we could be forced to cancel it."

Malone said the project requires regulatory certainty. And "opposition to any increase in discharge permit limits for Lake Michigan creates an unacceptable level of business risk for this $3.8 billion investment," he said.

During the next 18 months, BP will continue to seek issuance of other permits, continue project design, and explore options for operating within the lower discharge limits.

The company has agreed to participate with the Purdue Calumet Water Institute and the Argonne National Laboratory in a joint effort to identify and evaluate emerging technologies with the potential to improve wastewater treatment across the Great Lakes.

BP will provide a $5 million grant to Purdue University to help underwrite the research effort, Malone said.

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