Letter: Larger refinery would pose hazardsLots of attention has surrounded the possible expansion of Murphy Oil’s refinery in Superior, attracting commentary and speculation from not only residents of Superior, but from environmentalists, health officials and students like myself.
To The Telegram:
Lots of attention has surrounded the possible expansion of Murphy Oil’s refinery in Superior, attracting commentary and speculation from not only residents of Superior, but from environmentalists, health officials and students like myself.
As a student from UW-Madison, labels ranging from “hippies” to “liberals” to “ignorant” have been thrown around while talking about the possible environmental consequences and researching conservation hazards such an expansion poses. The bottom line: regardless of labels, social background or how the expansion is skewed, there will be both environmental consequences and conservation hazards immediately — health side effects to show up later, most likely in your children.
As a person from a Wisconsin town even smaller and more in need of jobs than Superior, I realize that pondering the fate of a marsh or forest that stands between me and a $20,000 pay raise or increase in tourism due to increased jobs is minimal. Heck, I wouldn’t think twice about it — unless I knew that those increased bouts of flu, bronchitis, headaches and birth defects in my neighbors, relatives and children were caused from toxins in the soil, air and water given off by Murphy Oil. Toxins such as hydrogen sulfide, ammonia, mercury and lead are known causes of these “minor” side effects that, when present in even tiny amounts (the EPA has a regulation of .053 parts per million for Nitrous Oxides), can cause miscarriages, blindness and death and are known waste products of Murphy Oil in Superior. Yes, many environmentalists are pushing against Murphy Oil because these toxins kill animals, fish, plants and ruin air quality, but can you imagine what these toxins are doing to the children and even adults who are working and playing outside in the water and forests of Superior? Humans are not an exception to the lethal effects of toxins!
If, against the hopes of environmentalists, the residents of Superior ignore all environmental side effects, it is my hope that people will think seriously about the increased health threats posed by such an expansion — just take a minute or two! I’ve been involved in researching the health effects for the past four months, and it’s difficult to stress how hard this expansion is going to hit the town, especially when considering the health impacts that will be passed from generation to generation (some due to toxins sticking in the environment, others being genetically passed on).
I challenge residents to do a bit of research before considering the expansion. Try “Googling” three toxins (hydrogen sulfide, sulfur dioxide, nitrous oxide, etc.) and skim the “minor” health effects. Does anything look familiar? It’s not a coincidence.
— Jaida Temperly,
Editor’s note: To clarify, neither local nor state residents are empowered to make a decision either way. If the expansion is formally proposed, only state and federal regulators have that authority.