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Published: Monday, 6/14/2010

40 gather at Oregon refinery to condemn BP for spill damage

BY TOM HENRY
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Protesters assemble along Cedar Point Road outside the BP-Husky refining operation in Oregon to add their voices to those speaking out against the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. Protesters assemble along Cedar Point Road outside the BP-Husky refining operation in Oregon to add their voices to those speaking out against the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.
JETTA FRASER Enlarge

The global condemnation of BP's Gulf of Mexico disaster spurred a local protest at the gates of BP-Husky Refining LLC on Sunday.

Similar events are being planned for Maumee Bay State Park and Sterling State Park on June 26.

"BP Lies. The Gulf Dies," one sign read. "Wake Up and Fight Back," read another.

BP's Toledo-area refinery is one of five in the United States owned by the London-based oil giant, which employs more than 80,000 and is active in exploring or producing oil in 30 countries.

Cheri Honkala of Philadelphia, representing the Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign, addresses the protesters outside the Oregon BP-Husky refinery. Cheri Honkala of Philadelphia, representing the Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign, addresses the protesters outside the Oregon BP-Husky refinery.
JETTA FRASER Enlarge

The protest attracted about 40 participants.

BP spokesman Mary Caprella said the company notified Oregon police that it had learned in advance about a peaceful demonstration being planned near the refinery's front entrance off Cedar Point Road.

When activists and media crews started showing up about 3 p.m., police ordered vehicles to park about a quarter-mile west of the entrance.

Once the march began, demonstrators were told to stay off the roadway.

A placard carried by a demonstrator vilifies Tony Hayward, BP's chief executive officer, fo rhis role in guiding the global oil giant's corporate image after the Gulf spill. A placard carried by a demonstrator vilifies Tony Hayward, BP's chief executive officer, fo rhis role in guiding the global oil giant's corporate image after the Gulf spill.
JETTA FRASER Enlarge

"What we should really care about is big oil in general," Eric Britton, a Perrysburg resident, Sierra Club member, and Toledo lawyer, told reporters.

"We've been driven by our addiction to oil."

Others were more pointed in their remarks about BP.

Cheri Honkala, a Philadelphia woman leading a movement called the Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign from New Orleans to Detroit, said BP should "be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law" for the devastation it has wreaked upon the U.S. economy and the nation's shoreline with its Gulf coast spill.

"It's embarrassing to this country and to the whole world that we don't know how to control [the spill]," she said.

Keith Sadler of North Toledo said Lake Erie and other parts of northwest Ohio are hardly immune from disaster, even though BP has no wells in the Great Lakes.

The local refinery, about a mile south of the Lake Erie shoreline, was informed in March that the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, part of the U.S. Department of Labor, had issued a $3 million fine against it for safety lapses.

Inspectors said the problems were akin to those that contributed to one of the nation's deadliest refinery explosions, in Texas in 2005.

A 2007 report by an independent panel commissioned by the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board concluded that the BP refinery in Oregon had been having "very deeply rooted" problems with safety oversight for years.

Almost any major event at Oregon's BP refinery would almost surely send large amounts of pollution into Lake Erie, Mr. Sadler said.

Company officials say that such concerns raised by regulators have been or are in the process of being resolved.

Ms. Caprella yesterday reiterated the local refinery has instilled a focus on "safe and reliable operations."

"We certainly regret what has occurred in the Gulf of Mexico," she said.

On June 26, Maumee Bay State Park in Oregon and Sterling State Park near Monroe - both along Lake Erie - are to be local host sites for those participating in an international event called Hands Across the Sand, www.handsacrossthesand.com.

Participants are asked to gather at 11 a.m. to form a line, hold hands, and have a 15-minute vigil on beaches to protest offshore drilling and encourage more development of renewable energy.

Contact Tom Henry at:

thenry@theblade.com

or 419-724-6079.



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