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Adjustments continue in wake of Indiana refinery fire

Some safety and environmental regulations for the distribution of gasoline, diesel, jet fuel or other refined fuels have been suspended due to a state of emergency resulting from an electrical fire at the BP PLC refinery in Whiting, Ind Gov. Eric Holcomb declared

BP Indiana Tank Field
BP Indiana Tank Field | Image courtesy of bp

August 31, 2022 6:54am

Updated: August 31, 2022 11:31am

Some safety and environmental regulations for the distribution of gasoline, diesel, jet fuel or other refined fuels have been suspended due to a state of emergency resulting from an electrical fire at the BP PLC refinery in Whiting, Ind.

Gov. Eric Holcomb declared the state of emergency and rules suspension in an executive order Tuesday, mirroring similar measures issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Friday.

There were no injuries linked to the fire. There was temporary closure of the refinery, which produces 430,000 barrels of fuel per day, accounting for about 25% of the gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel used in Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin. The temporary suspension of regulations is intended to ensure adequate fuel supply to those four states in the short term.

A phased restart is expected. Patrick De Haan, oil and refined products analyst at GasBuddy.com, tweeted Tuesday that BP hopes to "restore flow of products" by the weekend; he's not deviated from belief there would be no pending impact to prices at the pump.

Through Sept. 10, truckers carrying fuel are exempt from restrictions on the number of hours worked. Normally, truck drivers are limited to driving 11 hours within a 12-hour period before taking a mandatory 10-hour rest period.

Holcomb also suspended certain regulations concerning the volatility of gasoline delivered to gas stations. Volatility refers to how easily the gasoline vaporizes.

During the summer, gasoline with a lower volatility rate is required to limit emissions due to vaporization due to increased temperatures. The purpose is to limit unhealthy ground-level ozone.

Volatility is measured by Reid Vapor Pressure, with gasoline having higher RVP levels vaporizing more easily. Lower RVP gas also costs a few cents per gallon more to produce.

Holcomb suspended the inspection and enforcement of Reid Vapor Pressure levels statewide through Sept. 15. Also waived during that period are lowered gasoline volatility standards for fuel delivered to gas stations.

Fuel tanker trucks were involved in 108 fatal crashes in 2017 according to data gathered from published reports. About 16% of trucks carrying hazardous materials release material from the cargo compartment after crash.

The Center Square requested but did not receive comments on the emergency proclamation from an expert on fuel transportation and from the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.