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The Indiana Department of Environmental Management says the public comment period continues thru this Monday on a draft air permit related to building and operating new equipment at the BP Refinery in Whiting, a permit that incorporates the requirements of a consent decree. A public hearing was held at the Hammond Civic Center last night. Published reports say BP plans to install a new air monitoring system that goes beyond what's being required of the oil giant, a system that will use a light beam to analyze levels of harmful pollutants.
In May, it was announced that BP reached a settlement with federal and state agencies, and environmental groups, over the Whiting Refinery, which is in the midst of a four-billion dollar expansion, with the company agreeing to spend more than 400-million dollars for added pollution controls. The consent decree also requires the company to install air monitors at the fence line and inform the public with weekly updates available online.
Save the Dunes says data from these monitors will shed new light on community impacts of refinery operations, especially with regard to tar sands emissions as the facility shifts to tar sands oil. Groups, like Save the Dunes, who were involved in the settlement say it's a precedent-setting agreement that puts an end to the controversy over air pollution permits awarded by the state to expand the plant.