BP Refinery Leaks Oil Into Lake Michigan
A BP refinery in Whiting, Indiana leaked up to 1,638 gallons of oil into Lake Michigan Monday afternoon, an incident that occurred less than two weeks after the U.S. lifted BP’s ban on seeking new oil leases in the Gulf of Mexico.
BP says the spill, which has since been stopped and contained, was caused by a “disruption in the refining process” at its Whiting refinery in northwest Indiana. Dan Goldblatt, spokesman at the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, told ThinkProgress that his office was notified at about 4:30 CDT Monday of an oil sheen, which EPA officials said on a press call Thursday totaled about 5,000 square yards, on Lake Michigan. Mike Beslow, On-Scene Coordinator for the EPA, said that when he visited the site around 9 p.m. Monday, the sheen was no longer visible.
Lake Michigan acts as the drinking water source for 7 million people in the Chigago area alone, but EPA officials said on the call that the drinking water wouldn’t be affected by the spill. The EPA, BP and the Coast Guard are leading the cleanup effort, which involves placing booms on the water, scooping up oil, which has been turned hard and waxy by cold weather, with their hands, and cleaning up a nearby beach that was contaminated. BP told Reuters that they have had “no reports of any wildlife impacted,” and EPA officials confirmed this on the call.
The presence of a sheen on a body of water is typically viewed as a violation of the Clean Water Act, and EPA Region 5 Administrator Susan Hedman said during the call that officials would look into whether action should be taken against BP.
“I can assure you that EPA’s lawyers will be looking at this matter and determining whether or not enforcement action will be appropriate,” she said.
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