Lake Michigan Spill: Crude Oil Contaminates Half-Mile Of Coastline

Following a massive Lake Michigan oil spill, crews from BP worked throughout the day on Tuesday to clean up the undetermined amount of crude oil that spilled into the lake, affecting about a half-mile of shoreline.

The spill was caused due to a malfunction at BP’s northwestern Indiana refinery and was originally reported to authorities on Monday afternoon. The Lake Michigan spill seems to have been contained for the most part after crews deployed absorbent booms at the site of the spillage.

According to BP spokesman Scott Dean, the area affected by the spill was located in a cove along the lake near to Chicago which covers around 1,400 acres. Even though the spill was only 20 miles southeast of downtown Chicago, no potential threat is expected to affect water supplies.

Crews used vacuum trucks to suck up the oil from the spill, and focused on 2,700 feet of private shoreline which belongs to BP at its Whiting site. The BP spokesman, Dean, said that northerly winds assisted in containing the oil and pushing the majority of it to the shore.

“It’s in the lake, yes, but it’s not moving around freely. It’s been kind of contained because of the weather and of the geography of the lakefront there,” he said.

In an official statement released by BP on Tuesday, they said that they believe: “an upset at a crude distillation unit may have sent crude oil into the refinery’s cooling water outfall and then into the lake.”

Susan Hedman, the EPA’s regional administrator, said that the EPA is unaware of any previous oil spills at the site. and that the agency is now assessing the current spill in Lake Michigan: “EPA’s lawyers will be looking into this matter and determining whether or not enforcement action is appropriate,” she said.

U.S. Sen. Carl Levin, who co-chairs the Senate Great Lakes Task Force, said in a statement that the Lake Michigan spill:

“Underscores the importance of vigilance in protecting our Great Lakes from oil spills. We are fortunate that the spill appears to have been quickly contained, but I will continue to monitor developments to ensure that the cleanup is rapid and complete,” he said.