BP North America will have to pay $40 million for air violations at its Whiting Refinery in northwest Indiana — the largest federal penalty ever imposed for industrial air pollution. That’s according to a settlement reached on Wednesday between the company, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Justice.
Among other things, the EPA said the Whiting Refinery violated federal law by releasing too many toxic chemicals into the air — like volatile organic compounds. VOCs help create smog, which can cause lung problems for people living nearby. The refinery also put too much of the cancer-causing chemical benzene into Lake Michigan waterways.
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Aside from the penalty, BP North America will have to add roughly $197 million worth of equipment to reduce air and wastewater pollution at the Whiting Refinery.
The EPA said the settlement shows the agency is making good on its promise to hold industry accountable in Black and Brown communities that are overburdened by pollution.