The Department of Transportation declared a regional emergency Saturday affecting four Midwest states after a fire earlier this week caused an “unanticipated shutdown” of a BP oil refinery in Indiana.
BP Whiting, the sixth largest refinery in the U.S. producing over 400,000 barrels of oil per day, shut down to undergo damage assessment after a fire knocked out the plant’s electrical power and cooling water systems on Wednesday, Reuters reported.
The shutdown caused the federal government to take action and address the looming shortage of fuel output that will affect Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin, states that collectively receive up to 25% of their fuel from the Whiting refinery.
“This Declaration addresses the emergency conditions creating a need for immediate transportation of gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel and provides necessary relief,” the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) said in a statement.
The emergency declaration gives states an exemption from some federal regulations, such as waiving U.S. truck driver rules that dictate maximum driving times. However, when truckers return to normal operations after providing emergency assistance, they will be required to take a 10-hour break if they exceed 14 hours in emergency relief, according to FMCSA.
Sources told Reuters that the refinery’s restart date remained unknown as all of its units would have to be checked for damage and possibly repaired. BP spokesperson Christina Audisho explained Friday that the company was “continuing to assess when a restart of the affected units can take place.”
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