Safety, Sustainability, Community, People

True sustainability is multifaceted, interdependent

Sustainability is a term we often hear—sustainability of the planet, sustainability of our communities and our lifestyles. The sustainability of the business I work for, BP, is important to me. To me, there are three key ingredients to sustainability: safety, people, and interdependence.

Starting with interdependence, I cannot help but consider the sustainability of our business without considering how our sustainability impacts local communities, other businesses, our consumers, our workers, and their families. The reverse also is true; the sustainability of the community impacts our business.

The BP Whiting Business Unit (WBU) is one of the largest employers in Northwest Indiana, with 1,760 employees and over 1,000 contractors on any given day. Beyond jobs, the WBU also contributes significantly to the Lake County tax base and is a major supporter of community programs that enhance local quality of life through the Lake Area United Way.

Economically stable local communities and institutions that offer sound infrastructures and education help sustain WBU by providing BP with a diverse and skilled pool of workers.

Every day, the WBU relies on sound practices that maintain our safety and reliability in producing energy. Our people and the value we place on safety are key to these practices.

Our skilled people are the foundation of everything we do and the reason we have operated and will operate for the long term. The local community and Purdue Calumet are key partners in keeping this foundation strong. For example, we have 47 Purdue Calumet/Purdue West Lafayette engineering alumni; Purdue students work on senior design projects at the refinery; the Water Institute collaborates with us; and our business unit leader and Engineering Authority have been on the Purdue Engineering Advisory Board.

Unquestionably, another foundation to our sustainability is safety. It results in, and is a result of, confident employees who go home each day having left the refinery safer. Safety for us means equipment is well run and maintained, and that incidents that have the potential to injure people, damage equipment, disrupt production, or negatively affect the environment are prevented. Our bottom line: Safe operations are sustainable operations.

Strong safety values that are carried out by good people result in good business practices, safe operations, and sustainable business. Our sustainable business, in turn, helps sustain the community and vice versa. It all comes full circle—safety, sustainability, community, and people.

Whiting and the local communities hold a special place in my heart. My summer internship with Amoco in 1976 helped me decide to pursue site operations and engineering.

After all these years, I, too, have come full circle. I am able to pay back the people at the Whiting Business Unit and through them help Purdue and the state of Indiana.

-Deborah L. Grubbe (BSChE '77, PE, CEng), vice president of safety change management, BP Products North America, Inc.