Press Release

ELPC Calls Out Concerns with BP Whiting Refinery’s Air Permit Renewal

Comments submitted after recent emissions releases during BP plant mishaps

Whiting, IN. – The Environmental Law & Policy Center (ELPC) identified numerous serious defects in BP Whiting Refinery’s air permit renewal, including poor monitoring and absence of fenceline air monitoring, in comments submitted this week to Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM). ELPC is concerned those defects and others won’t adequately minimize exposure to harmful emissions for people living in nearby communities already overburdened with pollution. Concerns are further heightened because of recent reports that an unknown amount and undisclosed types of emissions were released during a power outage at the refinery.

“IDEM has a responsibility to draft air permits that will assure BP’s compliance with federal emission limits,” said Kerri Gefeke, associate attorney at ELPC. “This permit fails because it is missing key components including certain monitoring provisions for various pollutants. IDEM needs to go back to the drawing board and make sure the Permit is complete and enforceable.”

ELPC’s comments included:

  • Insufficient and unspecified monitoring and reporting at boiler stacks and other emissions sources: IDEM’s methods for quantifying fine particulate matter, or PM10, emissions from the boiler stacks is woefully inadequate and significantly undercounts actual emissions that are measured during a stack test. The permit also fails to explain how BP is expected to monitor compliance and report results for a variety of pollutant limits at numerous emissions sources aside from its boiler stacks. Those pollutants include other types of particulate matter, volatile organic compounds, nitrogen oxide, and carbon monoxide. Fine particulate matter is especially harmful to people because the particles can be inhaled and cause damage to respiratory and cardiovascular health.
  • Failure to include a compliance schedule for reporting the broad variety of emissions results.
  • Failure to include fenceline monitoring: BP’s history of noncompliance and the massive size of the Whiting refinery should compel IDEM to require the oil refinery giant install fenceline air monitoring equipment with real-time data reporting that’s available to the public. The Whiting facility is one of the largest refineries in the country.
  • Failure to assess environmental impact of the permit renewal on environmental justice communities close to the refinery.

Eleven environmental and community groups signed on to ELPC’s comments, including the Environmental Integrity Project, East Chicago Calumet Coalition – Community Advisory Group, Gary Advocates for Responsible Development, and Just Transition Northwest Indiana.

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