Public hearing Dec. 15 on BP's mercury discharge plan

2011-12-02T14:00:00Z 2011-12-02T22:40:10Z Public hearing Dec. 15 on BP's mercury discharge planBy Bowdeya Tweh, (219) 933-3316

The Indiana Department of Environmental Management is hosting a Dec. 15 public hearing on the draft proposal it approved for the BP Whiting Refinery to deviate from current rules on how much mercury can be in its wastewater discharge.

The hearing will be from 6 to 8 p.m. in conference Room 205 of Ivy Tech Community College Northwest's East Chicago campus, 410 E. Columbus Drive.

BP applied for a streamlined mercury variance Nov. 12, 2010, to modify its existing National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit. The permit is required for entities that discharge wastewater or pollutants directly into surface bodies of water.

The refinery doesn't currently have a variance, but has a compliance schedule within its existing permit, said Amber Finkelstein, IDEM spokeswoman.

BP said in its permit document that it needed the variance because its North American staff and its consultant haven't found a reliable end-of-pipe treatment system that could achieve consistent compliance with new mercury discharge limits.

Both the proposed permit with the streamlined mercury variance would expire July 31, 2012. As long as the the application for renewal for both is submitted to IDEM before that date, Finkelstein said the current permit deadline could be administratively extended.

Wastewater treatment systems in Valparaiso and East Chicago and industrial plants for Cargill Inc. and Dominion Resources Inc.'s State Line Generating Plant in Hammond are among entities with streamlined mercury variances.

A copy of the draft proposal and the company's Pollutant Minimization Program Plan is available online at

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