For the second time in less than a year, BP Products has agreed to pay millions of dollars to settle allegations it violated federal air pollution laws at its Whiting Refinery in northwest Indiana.
BP has agreed to pay a record $40 million civil penalty to resolve allegations it violated the Clean Air Act by releasing excess levels of carcinogenic benzene into wastewater streams and emitting excess volatile organic compounds and other hazardous air pollutants at the refinery.
The U.S. Department of Justice said the penalty is the largest ever secured for a Clean Air Act stationary source settlement.
BP will also be required to spend more than $197 million to correct deficiencies at the refinery, including the installation of at least one benzene removal device, called a stripper, and 10 air pollutant monitoring stations to measure air quality beyond the Whiting Refinery fence line.
“This settlement will result in the reduction of hundreds of tons of harmful air pollution a year, which means cleaner, healthier air for local communities, including communities with environmental justice concerns,” said acting assistant administrator Larry Starfield of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance.
Part of the record civil penalty includes fines for violations of a 2012 consent decree where BP agreed to pay an $8 million civil penalty and pay for improvements at the refinery that would reduce releases of nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, particulate matter and volatile organic compounds.
This settlement is at least the second in eight months, as the company in September paid $2.5 million to settle a lawsuit claiming it violated federal law by emitting excess levels of particulate air pollution.
In April, the Indiana Department of Environmental Management approved an agreement that levied a $58,500 civil penalty on the company for more than a dozen state air permit violations in 2021 and early 2022, including excess particulate matter emissions.
The EPA also levied a $156,300 penalty on BP in December 2021 for leak detection and repair monitoring program violations.