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EPA grants part of a citizen petition on BP's air permit

Release Date: 10/19/2009
Contact Information: William Omohundro, 312-353-8254, omohundro.william@epa.gov

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
No. 09-OPA202

(Chicago, Ill. - October 19, 2009) In response to a citizen petition on Indiana's air permit modification for BP's Whiting Refinery, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced that it has accepted some issues while denying others. In August 2008, the Environmental Law & Policy Center, Natural Resources Defense Council, Hoosier Environmental Council, Save the Dunes and Sierra Club petitioned EPA to formally object to the state's modification of BP’s operating permit for an expansion project to refine high-sulfur Canadian crude oil.

EPA had reviewed the state's permit before it was issued and worked with Indiana to address several areas of concern. The permit modification was subject to public comment, but the Clean Air Act also provides an additional opportunity for the public to request that EPA review specific matters. Upon this further review, EPA agrees that IDEM did not adequately respond to public comment and that information on some of BP's emissions may have been omitted. Specifically, questions must be answered about emissions from flares, residual emissions from vessel depressurization, increased emissions from coking and coke drum depressurization, fugitive emissions from reduced sulfur compounds and emission factors to account for higher-sulfur crude.

EPA did not conclude that the net emissions increase from the project trigger the major modification threshold. However, IDEM must fully respond to the specific questions raised by the petitioners and re-evaluate the emissions calculations for this project. If IDEM concludes that the threshold is triggered, any new requirements developed by IDEM to meet Clean Air Act requirements must be incorporated into the BP operating permit.

EPA denied the petitioners' claims regarding the venting of uncontrolled pressure relief valves, best available control technology for greenhouse gas emissions, and the need for a compliance schedule based on EPA's allegations.

IDEM has 90 days to reconsider, revise as appropriate and submit a proposed permit to EPA.

A copy of the order is at http://www.epa.gov/region5/air/bptitlevorder20091016.pdf.

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