Dear L.A.W. Readers,
Yesterday we posted a short article outlining the brief background of the recent approval granted by The State of Indiana, EPA and British Petroleum (BP) to increase the amount of daily ammonia and sludge that would be released into Lake Michigan on a daily basis. See our previous entry for full details.
We had written to the following individuals involved in this issue to see if they had any feedback they wanted us to share with our readers:
British Petroleum (BP)
Congressman Vern Ehlers (R-MI)
Mayor Heartwell, Grand Rapids
2007 Mayoral Candidates for Grand Rapids, Rick Tormala & Jim Rinck
By the publishing deadline, we had replies from Ehlers, Heartwell and Tormala. All took the time to write to us direct as they felt this was indeed an important issue.
We have not had a statement submitted by Jim Rinck as of yet (we were updated late today by Jeff Winston, campaign manager for Rinck, that he is out of town for a few days. Upon his return, he will send us a statement of his thoughts and position on this issue. We will post his reply once we receive it).
BP also made a point of contacting us regarding our e-mail to them and our internet posting. Late yesterday afternoon we received a response from Valerie Corr at the BP Press Office. She advised us of the following, "We take your concerns very seriously, and I appreciate that you included BP's position on your website. Attached is a fact sheet you may find helpful. I would like to clarify that BP absolutely does not and will not release sludge or toxic waste streams into Lake Michigan. BP takes the issue of climate change and the environment very seriously. We are making significant investments in bio-fuels, solar, wind and other forms of alternative energy. For more information, please visit www.bp.com”.
The Local Area Watch will attach their fact sheet for viewing by first of next week. Any interested parties are welcome to read the three pages they provided that cover the most frequently asked questions and the corresponding answers from BP’s view point.
We are still not convinced that providing special permits for additional dumping is the final answer to increased refinery production in an aged facility and a handful of new jobs. An increase for ammonia discharge levels here, an increase for sludge discharge levels there, where does it end? Exemptions for large companies could mean reduced restrictions for small companies later, which then allows a domino process to begin with loosening of environmental laws meant to protect humans, wildlife and our water system in this area. Clean up of our lakes can't continue if pollution levels are allowed to be increased. Since BP is already considered the largest contributor to pollution on Lake Michigan now, we remain skeptical based upon evidence we are seeing that getting exemptions won't somehow result in ammonia and sludge reaching our lake system - even with mixers, diffusers and the like trying to control the problem.
We will continue to keep an eye on this issue and report developments as they occur with Congressman Ehlers & Emanuel ,and if the State of Indiana and the EPA choose to revoke the permit they issued under an exemption earlier.
The Local Area Watch