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SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Despite being granted a wastewater permit allowing it to do so, BP America said it will not increase its ammonia- and suspended-solids discharges into Lake Michigan, the Northwest Indiana and Illinois Times reported.
Responding to more than a month of public bashing, BP said it will proceed with its $3.8 billion plan to expand its Whiting oil refinery, but will do so while adhering to the previous permit’s limits. The company vowed, as it has before, to find discharge-minimizing solutions for the project, according to the newspaper.
But BP also said axing the project may be a possibility. "If necessary changes to the project result in a material impact to project viability, we could be forced to cancel it," BP America President Bob Malone said in a statement.
Malone called the expansion important for the nation, the Midwest and the company. BP said the increase was needed in order to process heavy Canadian crude oil, increasing its production of motor fuels by about 15 percent, The Associated Press reported.
Thursday's announcement followed weeks of uproar by environmentalists and politicians upset that the Indiana Department of Environmental Management approved BP's permit to dump 54 percent more ammonia and 35 percent more suspended solids into the lake. Critics said the permit amounted to a reversal of decades-long efforts to reduce pollution levels.
BP officials have stood behind the expanded permit, saying it meets state and federal guidelines and complies with the Clean Water Act, but outrage from citizens and lawmakers from several states have created an "unacceptable business risk" for the company, BP said in the Northwest Indiana and Illinois Times report.
BP also announced it would contribute $5 million to a review of refining technologies being conducted by Purdue Calumet's Water Institute and Argonne National Laboratory.