Did you know that 19 members of Congress from the Great Lakes Legislative Caucus called for the investigation after U.S. EPA announced that a BP refinery located in Whiting, Indiana had been in violation of the Clean Air Act from 2003 to 2008. In a June 3, 2009 letter to EPA administrator Lisa Jackson, members of the Great Lakes caucus called for a “comprehensive review of all ground, water and air pollution discharges at all British Petroleum refining facilities in the Great Lakes basin.”
The letter points out that BP requested that it be able to increase the amounts of pollutants it released in the Great Lakes region. That request was denied after local legislators and activists united to stop it.
Around the time when the letter was sent, U.S. EPA cited BP Products North America Inc. for alleged Clean Air Act violations at the company’s petroleum refinery at 2815 Indianapolis Blvd., Whiting, Ind. EPA alleges that for calendar years 2003 through 2008 BP failed to manage and treat benzene waste from the facility as required by the national emission standards for hazardous air pollutants. The facility’s 2008 report showed that benzene waste was almost 16 times the amount allowed. To date, the matter remains unresolved.
Benzene is known to cause cancer in humans. Acute health effects from benzene exposure can include dizziness and lightheadedness; eye, nose and throat irritation; upset stomach and vomiting; irregular heartbeat; convulsions and death. Ecological effects include death in exposed animal, bird and fish populations and death or reduced growth rate in plant life.