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EPA Orders Review of Air Pollution at BP Refinery

BPrefineryThe U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has ordered Indiana to re-examine several sources of air pollution at BP’s Whiting refinery in northwest Indiana, one of the largest sources of air pollution in the Chicago area, reports the Chicago Tribune. The results are due in 90 days.

In response to a petition from environmental groups alleging that Indiana has allowed the oil company to avoid stringent requirements under the federal Clean Air Act, the EPA ordered Indiana regulators to revamp a new operating permit for the Midwest’s biggest refinery, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Critics say the operating permit was typical of Indiana’s allegedly lax approach to BP, which is spending $3.8 billion to upgrade and expand the Whiting plant to process heavy crude pulled from tar-soaked clay and sand in Canada, reports the Chicago Tribune

The EPA outlines several problems in the order including pollution limits on its flares that burn off pressurized gases from the refinery, and the amount of emissions from equipment that turns some of the heavy oil into petroleum coke, reports the Chicago Tribune.

When the Indiana Department of Environmental Management awarded the company a new permit last year, it agreed with BP that the flares will emit virtually no toxic fumes when the expansion project is completed, and the state agency said emissions from equipment would be “negligible,” which EPA suggests is unrealistic due to the amount of pollution coke production creates, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Although company officials and Indiana regulators are still reviewing the EPA order, BP plans to move ahead with the Whiting project, but it will not be allowed to operate the new equipment until these issues are resolved, reports the Chicago Tribune.

The EPA’s order could set a precedent for refinery projects in Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota and Ohio, according to the newspaper.

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