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Press Release

Justice Department and EPA Announce Settlement to Reduce Hazardous Air Emissions at BP Products’ Whiting Refinery in Indiana

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs
BP Products Will Implement Injunctive Relief Valued at More Than $197 Million to Correct Deficiencies and Pay a Record-Setting Penalty of $40 Million

Today, the Department of Justice and the  Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a Clean Air Act Settlement with BP Products North America Inc., (BPP), a subsidiary of BP p.l.c., requiring control technology expected to  reduce benzene by an estimated seven tons per year, other hazardous air pollutants (HAP) by 28 tons per year and other volatile organic compound emissions (VOC) by 372 tons per year at its Whiting Refinery in Indiana. The United States’ complaint, filed simultaneously with the settlement, alleges that BPP violated federal regulations limiting benzene in refinery wastewater streams, and HAP and VOC emissions at its Whiting Refinery, as well as the general requirement to use good air pollution control practices. As part of the settlement, BPP will install one or more permanent benzene strippers to reduce benzene in wastewater streams leading to its lakefront wastewater treatment plant.

“This settlement sends an important message to the refining industry that the United States will take decisive action against illegal benzene and VOC emissions,” said Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “Under the settlement, the refinery will implement controls that will greatly improve air quality and reduce health impacts on the overburdened communities that surround the facility.”

“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 EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “This is one of several recent settlements that show that EPA and the Department of Justice are committed to improving air quality in local communities by holding industrial sources accountable for violations of emission standards under the Clean Air Act.”

“This settlement advances my office’s environmental justice initiative by providing cleaner air and reducing the negative health impacts on the low income and minority residents who live near BPP’s refinery,” said U.S. Attorney Clifford D. Johnson for the Northern District of Indiana. “My office is committed to continuing to enforce the nation’s environmental laws so that all residents of Northern Indiana can live, work and play in a cleaner, healthier environment.”

In addition to securing injunctive relief, including capital investments, estimated to exceed $197 million, the settlement obligates BPP to pay a total financial penalty of $40 million, comprised of civil penalties and stipulated penalties for violations of an earlier settlement. This is the largest civil penalty ever secured for a Clean Air Act stationary source settlement. BPP separately agreed to undertake a $5 million supplemental environmental project to reduce diesel emissions in the communities surrounding the Whiting Refinery. BPP will also install 10 air pollutant monitoring stations to monitor air quality outside of the refinery fence line. The settlement terms are included in a proposed consent decree filed with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana.

Benzene is known to cause cancer in humans. Short-term inhalation exposure to benzene also may cause drowsiness, dizziness, headaches, as well as eye, skin and respiratory tract irritation, and, at high levels, unconsciousness. Long-term inhalation exposure can cause various disorders in the blood, including reduced numbers of red blood cells and anemia in occupational settings. Reproductive effects have been reported for women exposed by inhalation to high levels, and adverse effects on the developing fetus have been observed in animal tests.

VOCs, along with NOX, play a major role in the atmospheric reactions that produce ozone, which is the primary constituent of smog. People with lung disease, children, older adults, and people who are active can be affected when ozone levels are unhealthy. Ground-level ozone exposure is linked to a variety of short-term health problems, including lung irritation and difficulty breathing, as well as long-term problems, such as permanent lung damage from repeated exposure, aggravated asthma, reduced lung capacity and increased susceptibility to respiratory illnesses such as pneumonia and bronchitis.

The Whiting Refinery is surrounded by communities with environmental justice concerns. This settlement is part of the Justice Department’s and EPA’s ongoing focus on assisting communities that have been historically marginalized and disproportionately exposed to pollution.

This settlement also supports EPA’s National Enforcement and Compliance Initiative (NECI): Creating Cleaner Air for Communities by Reducing Excess Emissions of Harmful Pollutants. To learn more about this NECI, visit

The State of Indiana assisted in the negotiations and is also a party to the settlement.

The settlement is subject to a public comment period and final court approval. The consent decree will be available for viewing at

Updated April 5, 2024

Environmental Justice
Press Release Number: 23-566