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BP wins air permit for refinery expansion

Updated: February 4, 2013 2:38PM



WHITING — BP has received approval from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management to expand its refinery in Whiting, winning an air permit that will allow the company to complete construction on facilities that can handle higher quantities of heavy crude oil.

IDEM said the permit was issued on Dec. 20.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and state and national environmental groups challenged the oil company in federal court in 2008. The groups in May 2012 agreed to a settlement in which BP would pay about $400 million for equipment to reduce pollution and greenhouse gases and about $20 million in civil fines.

“BP has agreed to implement a number of additional projects designed to further decrease air emissions at the refinery,” BP spokesman Scott Dean said. “These environmental projects include a state-of-the-art system to reduce the flaring of refinery gas as well as additional controls and practices to lower emissions from process equipment throughout the refinery.”

The upgrades will include 10 flares that will help burn 98 percent of gases that escape the facility. Monitors around the property will check for pollutants such as benzene, sulfur dioxide and hydrogen sulfide. The monitoring will be posted to a public website once a week for two years, although company officials have said they plan to provide the data for a longer period.

The project will allow Whiting to process up to 85 percent heavy crude, compared to the 20 percent it currently processes, according to company documents.

The expansion project is expected to be finished in the second half of this year.



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