Department of Transportation declares regional emergency following BP refinery fire in Indiana

·2 min read

A Department of Transportation agency declared a regional energy emergency for four Midwestern states on Saturday after a fire at an oil refinery in Indiana forced the facility to shut down.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration made the declaration to address the need for the immediate transportation of gasoline, diesel and jet fuel for Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin.

The declaration allows the states to be exempt from certain federal regulations to manage the emergency.

It will permit motor carriers and drivers providing direct, related assistance to the impacted states not to abide by regulations setting a maximum driving time.

The declaration states that drivers are required to take a 10-hour break when moving from emergency relief efforts to normal operations if the total amount of time they engage in emergency relief efforts exceeds 14 hours. This regulation also applies if the total amount of time combined from emergency relief and normal operations exceeds 14 hours.

Reuters reported on Wednesday that BP shut down some of its units at its Whiting, Ind., refinery due to an electrical fire. The fire was extinguished, and the company said it was deciding when the affected units would restart.

There were no injuries. The refinery handles more than 430,000 barrels per day, according to Reuters.

It provides about 20 to 25 percent of the refined gas, diesel and jet fuel that the four states collectively use.

Whiting is located on Lake Michigan, near the state’s border with Illinois.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) issued an executive order on Saturday to exempt motor carriers and drivers transporting gas and diesel fuel from the maximum weekly driving and on-duty limits. The order also accelerates the transition to the fall fuel supply and takes advantage of existing stocks of fuel.

“The impacts of the outage at the Whiting facility will be widespread across our region, and I am taking proactive steps to help Michiganders get the fuel they need to drive their cars and help businesses keep their products moving,” she said in a release. “With today’s action, I am freeing up more gas supply and removing any impediments to gas delivery to cut down wait times at stations.”

The release states the order will take effect immediately and last as long as the emergency continues or the end of the day on Sept. 15, whichever is first

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