A sundown view of BP's Whiting Refinery outside of Chicago.  -  Photo: BP file photo

A sundown view of BP's Whiting Refinery outside of Chicago.

Photo: BP file photo

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has issued a temporary hours-of-service exemption for the transport of fuel and petroleum products to certain states following the unexpected shutdown of a BP refinery.

An Aug. 24 fire at the BP refinery in Whiting, Indiana, led to a shutdown that affects the supply of gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel in Indiana and other nearby states. It is the largest refinery in the Midwest and the sixth largest in the country.

On Aug. 26, FMCSA announced a regional emergency and the HOS exemption, which applies to those transporting gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and other refined petroleum products to Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin.

Motor carriers and drivers providing direct assistance to the emergency in the affected States in direct support of relief efforts related to the shortages of gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel due to the fire at the refinery are granted relief from rules on maximum driving time.

Direct assistance does not include routine commercial deliveries, FMCSA stressed, including mixed loads “with a nominal quantity of qualifying emergency relief added to obtain the benefits of this emergency declaration.”

Michigan’s governor also signed a similar statewide energy emergency order Saturday.

The exemption will remain in effect until the end of the or Sept. 10, whichever is earlier. FMCSA may take action to extend, modify or terminate the Emergency Declaration if conditions warrant.

According to Reuters, BP may begin a phased restart of the refinery this week after restoring electrical and cooling water systems.

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