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Analysis of BP refinery case finds problems in Indiana permit process

December 10, 2007
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An independent analysis of the regulatory process Indiana used to approve a permit boosting pollution discharges from BP''s Whiting, Ind., refinery into Lake Michigan concludes that the permit fully complies with federal and state laws, according to the Associated Press. But the report released recently also highlights problems with Indiana''s regulatory process that its author said helped fuel an uproar this past summer over the wastewater permit for the nation''s fourth-largest refinery. The analysis sought by Gov. Mitch Daniels found that BP''s permit is as demanding or more so than adjoining states'' restrictions on refineries, and it concludes that its higher discharge levels do not "threaten drinking water supplies nor portend beach closings." However, the report by James Barnes, the former dean of Indiana University''s School of Public and Environmental Affairs, concludes that the controversy over the permit arose in part from shortcomings in Indiana''s regulations governing the lake''s water quality. Daniels requested the analysis in August following weeks of harsh criticism by environmentalists, the public and lawmakers about the 1,400-acre refinery''s new wastewater permit, which replaces one issued in 1990. The permit, which Indiana granted in June, had been reviewed and approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. It allows the refinery to increase the amount of ammonia it dumps into the lake by 54 percent and its discharges of suspended solids by 35 percent by 2012.

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