BP gets OK to dump mercury into Lake Michigan

dualsmp

Golden Member
Aug 16, 2003
1,626
44
91
Has anyone seen the bleeding heart commercials about how BP cares about the environment? What a joke. :roll:


http://www.usatoday.com/money/...07-07-30-mercury_N.htm

BP gets OK to dump mercury into Lake Michigan
By Bobby Carmichael, USA TODAY

A BP (BP) refinery in Indiana will be allowed to continue to dump mercury into Lake Michigan under a permit issued by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management.

The permit exempts the BP plant at Whiting, Ind., 3 miles southeast of Chicago, from a 1995 federal regulation limiting mercury discharges into the Great Lakes to 1.3 ounces per year.

The BP plant reported releasing 3 pounds of mercury through surface water discharges each year from 2002 to 2005, according to the Toxics Release Inventory, a database on pollution emissions kept by the Environmental Protection Agency that is based on information reported by companies.

The permit was issued July 21 in connection with the plant's $3.8 billion expansion, but only late last week began to generate public controversy. It gives the company until at least 2012 to meet the federal standard.

The action was denounced by environmental groups and members of Congress.

"With one permit, this company and this state are undoing years of work to keep pollution out of our Great Lakes," said Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill., co-sponsor of a resolution overwhelmingly approved by the House last week that condemned BP's plans.

Studies have shown that mercury, a neurotoxin, is absorbed by fish and can be harmful if eaten in significant quantities, particularly by pregnant women and children. Each of the eight Great Lakes states warns residents to avoid certain kinds of fish or limit consumption.

The permit comes as the states, working with the federal government, are trying to implement the $20 billion Great Lakes Regional Collaboration Strategy, an umbrella plan to restore the health of the lakes signed in late 2005.

Indiana officials said the amount of mercury released by BP was minor.

"The permitted levels will not affect drinking water, recreation or aquatic life," Indiana Department of Environmental Management Commissioner Thomas Easterly told the Chicago Tribune.

BP said it doubted that any municipal sewage treatment plant or industrial plant could meet the stringent federal standards.

"BP will work with (Indiana regulators) to minimize mercury in its discharge, including implementation of source controls," the company said, according to the Tribune.

Part of the concern is that the Great Lakes have only one outlet ? the St. Lawrence River.

"Lake Michigan is like a giant bathtub with a really, really slow drain and a dripping faucet, so the toxics build up over time," said Emily Green, director of the Great Lakes program for the Sierra Club.
 

dmcowen674

No Lifer
Oct 13, 1999
54,894
47
91
www.alienbabeltech.com
Originally posted by: dualsmp
Topic Title: BP gets OK to dump mercury into Lake Michigan
Topic Summary: Because they care

Has anyone seen the bleeding heart commercials about how BP cares about the environment? What a joke. :roll:

Beyond Petroleum we kill you
 

1EZduzit

Lifer
Feb 4, 2002
11,834
1
0
What is the R's like to say, they would rather teach you how to fish then give you a fish? Apparently they forgot to tell me the part where they dump mercury into the lake. ;)
 

BrownTown

Diamond Member
Dec 1, 2005
5,314
1
0
I wonder how many TONS of mercury are released each year into the air by the major electric companies each year? TBH I have no clue, but maybe it would be interesting to put the amount of 3 pounds into perspective as to the relative emissions this is?

EDIT: initial research seems to indicate that pretty much every coal plant in existence would release more mercury per year than 3 pounds, the largest coal plant emits ~1200 pounds.
 

tweaker2

Lifer
Aug 5, 2000
14,519
6,953
136
how is it that state gov'ts can ignore federal regs when federal regs have a higher authority?

i guess if our president can issue signing statements that his lapdog AG will blindingly approve of our state governors can do the same?

so what's the use of having fed regs in the first place if they can be mitigated at will?

and if the amount of mercury bp is releasing is considered minor, then so too could every other industry do the same and the aggregate of all of that should then be ignored?
 

Kntx

Platinum Member
Dec 11, 2000
2,270
0
71
BS. We already can't eat tuna because of mercury. What's next?
 

Fern

Elite Member
Sep 30, 2003
26,907
173
106
Originally posted by: tweaker2
how is it that state gov'ts can ignore federal regs when federal regs have a higher authority?

I don't know, good question.

Fern
 

jrenz

Banned
Jan 11, 2006
1,788
0
0
Originally posted by: BrownTown
I wonder how many TONS of mercury are released each year into the air by the major electric companies each year? TBH I have no clue, but maybe it would be interesting to put the amount of 3 pounds into perspective as to the relative emissions this is?

EDIT: initial research seems to indicate that pretty much every coal plant in existence would release more mercury per year than 3 pounds, the largest coal plant emits ~1200 pounds.

Electric power plants release about 48 tons of mercury per year.
Industrial boilers realease about 12 tons.
Gold mining releases about 12 tons.
Waste processing releases about 15 tons.
Chlorine production releases about 7 tons.
Other sources account for about 25 tons.

The following statistics relate to the sources and amounts of mercury entering the Great Lakes:

Electric Services (coal-fired power plants): 11,701.10 kg
Heavy Duty Diesel Vehicles: 4,322.09 kg
Refuse Systems: 2,256.74 kg
Alkalies and Chlorine: 1,244.04 kg
General Medical & Surgical Hospitals: 1,166.54 kg
Farm Equipment: 509.23 kg
Construction Equipment: 469.47 kg
Electric and Other Services Combined: 398.91 kg
Iron Ores: 390.06 kg
Wet Corn Milling: 378.94 kg
Cement, Hydraulic: 333.78 kg
Light Duty Gasoline Vehicles: 326.11 kg
Sewer Systems: 322.75 kg
Lamp Breakage: 298.26 kg
Gray and Ductile Iron Foundries: 291.80 kg
Sum of other categories that have emissions less than 1%: 3517.82 kg

TOTAL: 27,927.64

3 pounds = ~ 1.3 kg = ~ .0046% of total release
 

sandorski

No Lifer
Oct 10, 1999
70,100
5,640
126
Originally posted by: 1EZduzit
What is the R's like to say, they would rather teach you how to fish then give you a fish? Apparently they forgot to tell me the part where they dump mercury into the lake. ;)

Which is why they don't wanna fish, "that **** is dangerous!".
 

mfs378

Senior member
May 19, 2003
505
0
0
Originally posted by: jrenz
Originally posted by: BrownTown
I wonder how many TONS of mercury are released each year into the air by the major electric companies each year? TBH I have no clue, but maybe it would be interesting to put the amount of 3 pounds into perspective as to the relative emissions this is?

EDIT: initial research seems to indicate that pretty much every coal plant in existence would release more mercury per year than 3 pounds, the largest coal plant emits ~1200 pounds.

Electric power plants release about 48 tons of mercury per year.
Industrial boilers realease about 12 tons.
Gold mining releases about 12 tons.
Waste processing releases about 15 tons.
Chlorine production releases about 7 tons.
Other sources account for about 25 tons.

The following statistics relate to the sources and amounts of mercury entering the Great Lakes:

Electric Services (coal-fired power plants): 11,701.10 kg
Heavy Duty Diesel Vehicles: 4,322.09 kg
Refuse Systems: 2,256.74 kg
Alkalies and Chlorine: 1,244.04 kg
General Medical & Surgical Hospitals: 1,166.54 kg
Farm Equipment: 509.23 kg
Construction Equipment: 469.47 kg
Electric and Other Services Combined: 398.91 kg
Iron Ores: 390.06 kg
Wet Corn Milling: 378.94 kg
Cement, Hydraulic: 333.78 kg
Light Duty Gasoline Vehicles: 326.11 kg
Sewer Systems: 322.75 kg
Lamp Breakage: 298.26 kg
Gray and Ductile Iron Foundries: 291.80 kg
Sum of other categories that have emissions less than 1%: 3517.82 kg

TOTAL: 27,927.64

3 pounds = ~ 1.3 kg = ~ .0046% of total release

I'd like to see where those statistics come from. Lamp breakage releases 300 kg mercury into the great lakes? Do people just throw their light bulbs in the water when they burn out?

Yeah it sounded fishy to me. 2-4 tons of mercury are released per year from discarded fluorescent bulbs in the US. Source 300 kg would be roughly 10%. According to your statistics, 10% of all light bulbs discarded end up in the great lakes? I don't buy it.
 

jrenz

Banned
Jan 11, 2006
1,788
0
0
Originally posted by: mfs378
I'd like to see where those statistics come from. Lamp breakage releases 300 kg mercury into the great lakes? Do people just throw their light bulbs in the water when they burn out?

Yeah it sounded fishy to me. 2-4 tons of mercury are released per year from discarded fluorescent bulbs in the US. Source 300 kg would be roughly 10%. According to your statistics, 10% of all light bulbs discarded end up in the great lakes? I don't buy it.

It's due to the fact that about 80% of the mercury that enters the water is from airborne sources. The vast majority of mercury released is released into the air.

Source
 

Jaskalas

Lifer
Jun 23, 2004
33,428
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I?d like to see someone defend this, because right now I?m on the ball with the outrage others express.
 

jrenz

Banned
Jan 11, 2006
1,788
0
0
Originally posted by: Jaskalas
I?d like to see someone defend this, because right now I?m on the ball with the outrage others express.

There's nothing really to "defend", per se. This particular article doesn't do a very good job of explaining anything.

Basically the BP plant in question was never really regulated, and this new "permit" forces them to curtail their dumping by 2012. The federal regulation in question is kinda fuzzy, as it doesn't really "require" anybody to do anything, it's supposed to pressure them to. Indiana only recently started regulating this kind of stuff as a state.

In reality, the amount they are dumping is miniscule. Of course, any amount is bad, but people here are trying to make it seem like BP is single handedly destroying the Great Lakes. The reality of the matter is that vastly greater quantities of mercury enter the water from airborne sources, which acount for the overwhelming majority of released mercury.

The outrage over this story would better be directed at reducing the amount of coal-burning power plants in the country, replacing them with nuclear. That would curtail the single greatest contributer to environmental mercury.
 

mfs378

Senior member
May 19, 2003
505
0
0
Originally posted by: jrenz
Originally posted by: mfs378
I'd like to see where those statistics come from. Lamp breakage releases 300 kg mercury into the great lakes? Do people just throw their light bulbs in the water when they burn out?

Yeah it sounded fishy to me. 2-4 tons of mercury are released per year from discarded fluorescent bulbs in the US. Source 300 kg would be roughly 10%. According to your statistics, 10% of all light bulbs discarded end up in the great lakes? I don't buy it.

It's due to the fact that about 80% of the mercury that enters the water is from airborne sources. The vast majority of mercury released is released into the air.

Source

Yes I see it there but it still seems high.

Is the BP mercury also airborne? It doesn't seem so from the article. If so this is a big difference between the airborne sources you cite and the BP pollution. The maximum concentration of mercury would be much higher and the local environmental impact also much larger. In this case I don't see what point you are trying to make with your statistics. Why not just process the discharge to keep the mercury out of the lake? Its not like they can't afford to do it.
 

jrenz

Banned
Jan 11, 2006
1,788
0
0
Originally posted by: mfs378
Originally posted by: jrenz
Originally posted by: mfs378
I'd like to see where those statistics come from. Lamp breakage releases 300 kg mercury into the great lakes? Do people just throw their light bulbs in the water when they burn out?

Yeah it sounded fishy to me. 2-4 tons of mercury are released per year from discarded fluorescent bulbs in the US. Source 300 kg would be roughly 10%. According to your statistics, 10% of all light bulbs discarded end up in the great lakes? I don't buy it.

It's due to the fact that about 80% of the mercury that enters the water is from airborne sources. The vast majority of mercury released is released into the air.

Source

Yes I see it there but it still seems high.

Is the BP mercury also airborne? It doesn't seem so from the article. If so this is a big difference between the airborne sources you cite and the BP pollution. The maximum concentration of mercury would be much higher and the local environmental impact also much larger. In this case I don't see what point you are trying to make with your statistics. Why not just process the discharge to keep the mercury out of the lake? Its not like they can't afford to do it.

I never said I approve of it, however this article and several other articles on the matter all have different info. Another article (Chicago sun-times I believe) has the amount released at only 2 pounds per year (33% less?), and noted that a certain amount of the mercury released was due to rain water runoff from the plant (which you can't really control), and from other sources besides direct dumping.

And sure, the local effect would be much worse, that's obvious, but the sheer amount of mercury which enters from the air makes it much, much more of a problem.
 

mfs378

Senior member
May 19, 2003
505
0
0
Originally posted by: jrenz
Originally posted by: mfs378
Originally posted by: jrenz
Originally posted by: mfs378
I'd like to see where those statistics come from. Lamp breakage releases 300 kg mercury into the great lakes? Do people just throw their light bulbs in the water when they burn out?

Yeah it sounded fishy to me. 2-4 tons of mercury are released per year from discarded fluorescent bulbs in the US. Source 300 kg would be roughly 10%. According to your statistics, 10% of all light bulbs discarded end up in the great lakes? I don't buy it.

It's due to the fact that about 80% of the mercury that enters the water is from airborne sources. The vast majority of mercury released is released into the air.

Source

Yes I see it there but it still seems high.

Is the BP mercury also airborne? It doesn't seem so from the article. If so this is a big difference between the airborne sources you cite and the BP pollution. The maximum concentration of mercury would be much higher and the local environmental impact also much larger. In this case I don't see what point you are trying to make with your statistics. Why not just process the discharge to keep the mercury out of the lake? Its not like they can't afford to do it.

I never said I approve of it, however this article and several other articles on the matter all have different info. Another article (Chicago sun-times I believe) has the amount released at only 2 pounds per year (33% less?), and noted that a certain amount of the mercury released was due to rain water runoff from the plant (which you can't really control), and from other sources besides direct dumping.

And sure, the local effect would be much worse, that's obvious, but the sheer amount of mercury which enters from the air makes it much, much more of a problem.

Well if we are debating the degree to which this is a problem I think we can just stop arguing. :beer:
 

Hacp

Lifer
Jun 8, 2005
13,923
2
81
Originally posted by: jrenz
Originally posted by: Jaskalas
I?d like to see someone defend this, because right now I?m on the ball with the outrage others express.

There's nothing really to "defend", per se. This particular article doesn't do a very good job of explaining anything.

Basically the BP plant in question was never really regulated, and this new "permit" forces them to curtail their dumping by 2012. The federal regulation in question is kinda fuzzy, as it doesn't really "require" anybody to do anything, it's supposed to pressure them to. Indiana only recently started regulating this kind of stuff as a state.

In reality, the amount they are dumping is miniscule. Of course, any amount is bad, but people here are trying to make it seem like BP is single handedly destroying the Great Lakes. The reality of the matter is that vastly greater quantities of mercury enter the water from airborne sources, which acount for the overwhelming majority of released mercury.

The outrage over this story would better be directed at reducing the amount of coal-burning power plants in the country, replacing them with nuclear. That would curtail the single greatest contributer to environmental mercury.

I thought government regulation was bad?
 

Stunt

Diamond Member
Jul 17, 2002
9,717
2
0
Originally posted by: dmcowen674
Originally posted by: dualsmp
Topic Title: BP gets OK to dump mercury into Lake Michigan
Topic Summary: Because they care

Has anyone seen the bleeding heart commercials about how BP cares about the environment? What a joke. :roll:
Beyond Petroleum we kill you
Beyond Petroleum is a brilliant marketing strategy...BP is one of the largest and oldest oil companies around. They aren't investing any more in R&D of alternate energies than Shell and other oil companies.

BP isn't doesn't mean beyond petroleum it stands for british petroleum. It's Britain's version of Exxon.
 

Gigantopithecus

Diamond Member
Dec 14, 2004
7,665
0
71
Originally posted by: jrenz
Originally posted by: Jaskalas
I?d like to see someone defend this, because right now I?m on the ball with the outrage others express.

There's nothing really to "defend", per se. This particular article doesn't do a very good job of explaining anything.

Basically the BP plant in question was never really regulated, and this new "permit" forces them to curtail their dumping by 2012. The federal regulation in question is kinda fuzzy, as it doesn't really "require" anybody to do anything, it's supposed to pressure them to. Indiana only recently started regulating this kind of stuff as a state.

In reality, the amount they are dumping is miniscule. Of course, any amount is bad, but people here are trying to make it seem like BP is single handedly destroying the Great Lakes. The reality of the matter is that vastly greater quantities of mercury enter the water from airborne sources, which acount for the overwhelming majority of released mercury.

The outrage over this story would better be directed at reducing the amount of coal-burning power plants in the country, replacing them with nuclear. That would curtail the single greatest contributer to environmental mercury.

Which is exactly what we did in Michigan & that Indiana still refuses to do. Indiana is one of the dirtiest states in the US largely because it is still reliant on dirty, dirty coal power plants. Almost all of the westside of the state of Michigan is powered by nuclear power plants which pollute the Great Lake - with heat... It affects the ecology of Lake Michigan, but not like mercury...
 

Stunt

Diamond Member
Jul 17, 2002
9,717
2
0
Wow, i wasn't impressed about this dumping, with a little bit of research I actually can't see why it shouldn't be dumped.

link to US EPA
"What happens to Mercury when it is released to the environment?
Mercury is unique among metals in that it can evaporate when released to water or soil. Also, microbes can convert inorganic forms of mercury to organic forms which can be accumulated by aquatic life."

"TOTAL Mercury Dumped 1987-1993: water 6,971 lbs, land 60,877 lbs"

"The Maximum Contaminant Level Goals for mercury has been set at 2 parts per billion FOR DRINKING WATER"

Here's a quick calculation:

Lake Michigan has a volume of 4920 km3 = 4,920,000,000,000 m3
1 m3 = 1000 L
1 L = 1kg
1kg = 1000g
Total grams of water is 4,920,000,000,000,000,000 g
mol of water = 18g/mol
Total moles of water is 273,000,000,000,000,000 mol

mol of mercury = 200g/mol
Total grams mercury = 1363 g
Total moles = 6.815 mol

ratio = 6.815/273,000,000,000,000,000
PPM= 25x10-6
PPB=25x10-3

Therefore the PPB recommendation for drinking water by the EPA is 2 PPB, this dump is 0.025 PPB

Interesting when it is all worked out :D
 

Stunt

Diamond Member
Jul 17, 2002
9,717
2
0
Originally posted by: Jaskalas
I?d like to see someone defend this, because right now I?m on the ball with the outrage others express.
I think I just defended it...:eek:
 

jman19

Lifer
Nov 3, 2000
11,221
654
126
Originally posted by: jrenz
Originally posted by: Jaskalas
I?d like to see someone defend this, because right now I?m on the ball with the outrage others express.

There's nothing really to "defend", per se. This particular article doesn't do a very good job of explaining anything.

Basically the BP plant in question was never really regulated, and this new "permit" forces them to curtail their dumping by 2012. The federal regulation in question is kinda fuzzy, as it doesn't really "require" anybody to do anything, it's supposed to pressure them to. Indiana only recently started regulating this kind of stuff as a state.

In reality, the amount they are dumping is miniscule. Of course, any amount is bad, but people here are trying to make it seem like BP is single handedly destroying the Great Lakes. The reality of the matter is that vastly greater quantities of mercury enter the water from airborne sources, which acount for the overwhelming majority of released mercury.

The outrage over this story would better be directed at reducing the amount of coal-burning power plants in the country, replacing them with nuclear. That would curtail the single greatest contributer to environmental mercury.

Nice try at diversion. A lot of people would prefer nuclear power over coal, it is just difficult due to the history of the nuclear scare boogyman. That really has nothing to do with why BP is putting mecury in the water, and it doesn't mean that BP doing this has no relevance.
 

jrenz

Banned
Jan 11, 2006
1,788
0
0
Originally posted by: jman19

Nice try at diversion. A lot of people would prefer nuclear power over coal, it is just difficult due to the history of the nuclear scare boogyman. That really has nothing to do with why BP is putting mecury in the water, and it doesn't mean that BP doing this has no relevance.

Diversion? I'm simply saying that this is an almost insignificant part of a much larger problem, and the circumstances are misrepresented in the article and the OP. Of course I'd like to see all mercury dumping stop, but making this story into such a huge deal is wasting energy. If that one BP plant stopped dumping mercury, it would have absolutely zero impact on the overall environment as compared to how much is dumped from other sources, for all intents and purposes.