Three incidents, including two flare-ups and a leak, reportedly occurred this week at the BP Whiting refinery, where unionized workers are on strike.
The Times of Northwest Indiana reports that the refinery experienced two large flare-ups, on Monday and Thursday mornings, and a leak on Wednesday at the Pipe Still 11C unit, which was subsequently shut down for repairs.
In response to the flare-ups, BP spokesman Scott Dean said, "All refineries operate flare stacks to safely combust excess gases and the appearance of these flares can change based on day-to-day operating conditions."
"The Whiting Refinery is operating safely and producing fuels for customers," Dean added, noting that the workers filling in for the striking employees have received appropriate training.
The environmental group Tar Sands Free Midwest said the incidents "[call] into question whether BP is putting profits over the safety of the community and it's workers."
"They continue to fight payouts over their devastation in the Gulf after the Deepwater Horizon spill," Debra Michaud with Tar Sands Free Midwest said in a statement. "How can workers who are forced to work for 12-24 hour shifts not make errors? Three major incidents in a week, and 8 in less than a year, should be warning enough that the refinery is putting the community and its workers in great peril."
Workers represented by United Steelworkers, which is in negotiations over a new national contract with oil companies, began their strike at the BP refinery on February 8. USW is calling for better wages and safety improvements. Its members have hit the picket lines at 15 refineries in the United States.