BP Can’t Store the Refinery Waste In Indiana, So Over the Border It Goes
Black mountains up to five stories high produced by waste from Canadian Tar Sands
The petroleum boys are pretty good at coming up with happy names for nasty stuff. Natural gas, for example, is the happy name for the highly explosive mega greenhouse gas known as methane. And wastewater is the name for used fracking fluid, which is really not much like any water you want to add to your aquifer. Coal ash sounds benign, but in reality its a toxic sludge stored in thousands of shaky “impoundments” around the country.
The latest industrial euphemism from the petro pimps is “petcoke”, which sounds like it might be a soft drink. But it isn’t. Petcoke (AKA Petroleum coke, AKA PetKoch) is a by product of refining bitumen from the tar sands of Alberta. It looks like coal but is even more environmentally ghastly due to a high sulfur and carbon content. It also blows off piles easily and into people’s yards. A few months ago, a Koch Brothers-controlled company began piling mounds of the stuff on the quays along the Detroit River…because they can. Now, new mountains of petcoke are piling up across the border in Illinois…to an open air storage sites owned by KCBX Terminals, one of the many owned by Charles and David Koch. It’s not like the Koch brothers are demonized for no reason.
On October 19, the Chicago Tribune ran a front page story on the latest abuse from the nice folks at BP: the storage of black hills of “pet coke” along the docks of the Calumet River in Chicago. Residents of the southeast side neighborhood are describing black clouds of toxic dust blowing from the mounds, causing them to keep their children inside.
The petcoke is actually produced at the infamous BP refinery at Whiting, IN, but shipped to Illinois for a pretty good reason: if the piles were stored at the Whiting facility, they would be obligated by law to enclose them. So everything is cool at BO as usual. They can now point the finer at KCBX Terminals is owned by people who consider the planet their personal toilet. BP is planning on producing three times the amount of pet coke at the Indiana plant, a location with more than its fair share of bad behavior.
With any hydrocarbon or fossil fuel, it’s not only the extraction that fouls the air and water. The storage of waste by products may actually be more hazardous to civilians than the drilling or mining. Deep storage wells for fracking waste have increased earthquake swarms in oil and gas exploration areas to an alarming extend, while coal ash storage breaches have caused massive floods of toxic materials in the southeast.
For a global perspective on oil and gas leaks, explosions and other screw ups, visit the CatMap Petroleum Screw Ups Map