A search to evaluate the Indiana oil spill has been delayed due to high winds and waves. This search was planned to go along Lake Michigan to look for crude oil that could possibly have submerged offshore. The urgent actions follows an oil spill at BP’s northwestern Indiana refinery that happened last Monday.
The oil giant BP reported the spill in Lake Michigan happened from a leak at its Whiting refinery in northwest Indiana. It’s was reported to be contained that same evening, but the company has more than doubled it’s estimates of how much crude oil escaped into the lake. It’s now believed that between 630 and 1,638 gallons of oil have been spilled.
“Any time you get any type of chemical in land or water, no one wants to see it,” Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Alan Haraf, a spokesman, said in an interview for Los Angeles Times. “We can’t say for certain, but the danger seems pretty low.”
Even so, residents near the spill are concerned. The lake is a source of drinking water for millions of people. Crews have spent hours shoveling away any oil coated pebbles along the shore just 20 miles southeast from downtown Chicago. The weather made it too dangerous for a Coast Guard, BP and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency assessment team to launch boats is expected to let up by Sunday. Teams plan to retrieve samples along the path of the Whiting refinery’s oil spill.
In a statement the oil company said, “BP is working closely with the U.S. Coast Guard, EPA and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management and will continue to keep the public and relevant authorities informed as events warrant.”
Compared to the BP spill into the Gulf of Mexico this latest event is minimal. Back then it was estimated that about 4.9 million barrels of oil had been spilled. That offers little consolation to the residents who get their water from Lake Michigan. Despite the reassurance that the danger is low, people in the area are on careful watch.
In the EPA assessment, inspectors found minimal oil on the shore and said that the spill likely posed no long-term risk to the lake. They report that EPA and USCG will be on site over the weekend to oversee cleanup operations. On the day of the spill, the EPA issued a Notice of Federal Interest; the agency will continue to work with BP until recovery work is concluded.