The Crusader Newspaper Group

Rescheduled IDEM public meeting, BP refinery air permit renewal, 2-22

WHO: Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM)/BP Whiting Refinery

WHEN: Thursday, Feb. 22, 6 PM (CST)

WHERE: Calumet College of St. Joseph, Room 200, 2400 New York Ave, Whiting, IN

BACKGROUND: BP’s largest refinery in Whiting, IN, submitted an application to the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) for its five-year renewal of its air permit. The original public meeting, scheduled at East Chicago Central High School, was abruptly canceled, frustrating approximately 100 people who planned to attend. IDEM said the cancellation was due to the school district for East Chicago, but the district said IDEM had failed to provide adequate security.

The facility impacts several communities, including Hammond, Whiting, East Chicago, and Chicago, and has had several leaks in the past two months due to equipment failures, creating local air quality issues from cancerous benzene and hydrogen sulfide. A Feb. 2 power failure at the facility resulting in unplanned gas flares caused the evacuation and temporary shutdown of the facility. Residents from several towns and municipalities in the impacted region reported an acrid odor that remains in their homes and adverse health effects like headaches, nausea, and eye irritation.

The Environmental Law and Policy Center (ELPC) described the permit application as “woefully incomplete,” lacking vital documents like an emergency response plan, preventative maintenance plan, and a leak detection plan.

Three minutes are allowed for the public (including those not from Indiana) to provide comments and ask questions to IDEM. Comments should be written to be included in the public record.

Just Transition Northwest Indiana (JTNWI) is a grassroots environmental justice organization serving Northwest Indiana, whose mission is to educate and organize NWI communities and workers, give voice to their stories, and support a just transition to a regenerative economy that protects the environment, climate, and future generations. For more information, visit

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