Sierra Club Suing BP Over Air Violations At Its Whiting Refinery

Sep 11, 2019

BP's Whiting Refinery
Credit FILE PHOTO: Tyler Lake/IPB News

The Sierra Club says it’s suing BP for air quality violations at its Whiting Refinery that have harmed northwest Indiana residents’ health. The Hoosier chapter of the organization filed suit against the company in a federal district court on Friday. 

It says for at least four years, state and federal environmental agencies have allowed BP’s Whiting Refinery to emit too much particulate matter — which has been linked to health problems like asthma and heart attacks.

Eric Schaeffer, director of the Environmental Integrity Project, is the attorney representing the Sierra Club.

“They’ve made findings every time that the company isn’t complying with its limits. They just haven’t done anything about it and that’s why we’re bringing this action,” he says.

Schaeffer says the Sierra Club hopes the suit will help bring down these dangerous emissions at the Whiting Refinery as soon as possible.

In 2012, the company reached an agreement with the Sierra Club and other parties to lower its emissions caused by the expansion of the refinery. David Woronecki-Ellis chairs the Sierra Club’s Dunelands group in northwest Indiana. He says he feels the company has violated that agreement.

“To continue to have that impact on people’s lives without any real compensation or recourse for people who live nearby,” Woronecki-Ellis says.

BP did not make anyone available for an interview, but released the following statement:

BP takes seriously our commitment to safe and reliable operations at the Whiting refinery and across our global operations. We are reviewing this complaint and will be prepared to vigorously defend our operations.

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Indiana Environmental reporting is supported by the Environmental Resilience Institute, an Indiana University Grand Challenge project developing Indiana-specific projections and informed responses to problems of environmental change.