Whiting refinery, 2011 expansion

This is a 2011 article about what was then the proposed expansion of the BP Refinery in Whiting, Indiana, the southeast side of Chicago. The expansion was planned in order to process additional tar sands oil piped in from Alberta. The Whiting refinery, over a century old, is one of the largest in the United States, and sits on the south shore of Lake Michigan. In addition to air pollution, the refinery complex discharges ammonia and suspended solids — sludge — into Lake Michigan.

“Because tar sands are much heavier and contain more sulfur than conventional oil, they must be diluted with a volatile natural gas product to make them sufficiently liquid to be shipped,” explains the article. “Once they arrive at Whiting, these toxic compounds need to be removed and disposed of during refining.”

In addition, the refinery’s air emissions include volatile organic compounds, particulate matter, sulfur dioxide, benzene, and lead.

A citizens group called the Calumet Project, partnering with the Global Community Monitor, based out of California, were challenging the expansion.

The tar sands facility being built at the BP Refinery in Whiting, Ind., formed the backdrop to a soccer game in 2011. John Konstantaras/Chicago News Cooperative