Less than a year after the oil giant BP began processing tar sands at its Whiting Refinery in Indiana, it is reported that the company is the subject of a spill of an undetermined amount of the substance into Lake Michigan.
BP blames a malfunction of its cooling system at its refinery for the spill that took place on Monday. The oil spill leaked into Lake Michigan, the source of drinking water for 7 million of Chicago’s residents.
Workers from the refinery reported a sheen on the water at 4:30 pm on Monday, but an official from the Environmental Protection Agency reported that the leak had been plugged by the time that he arrived at 9 PM.
It is reported that 2,000 foot of oil boom was deployed to attempt to contain the oil as vacuum trucks moved in to suck up approximately 5,200 gallons of oil/water mix from the location.
Although it was reported that the oil boom deployed to contain the oil was working as it should, imagery showed that it was failing at its intended purpose. EPA reports that the colder water temperatures had caused the oil to harden to the consistancy of wax, making the cleanup easier. Reports say that the oil was pushed by strong winds into a cove owned by BP
This latest spill comes at the anniversary of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill in Alaska’s Prince William Sound where approximately 11 million gallons of crude coated the beaches of the Sound and Kodiak Island, and just days after a substantial spill in Texas.
Henry Henderson of the Natural Resources Defense Council states that even after two days since the spill, no information has been released as to the amount of the spill. He said, “It is that lack of transparency that drives environmentalists and government decisionmakers alike crazy. The public needs to know what has made its way into their drinking water sources and whether it is being adequately cleaned. Sure, state and federal regulators need to do better: press calls to state and federal EPA were routed directly to BP to answer.”
The oil spill occurred at BP’s largest refinery that had recently gone through a $4 billion overhaul to enable it to refine the heavy tar sands oil.
Environmental groups fought to deter the upgrade to the 100-year-old Whiting Refinery stating that the refining of the Canadian Tar Sands oil would increase pollution into Lake Michigan.
Illinois Senators Dick Durbin and Senator Mark Kirk state that they intend to hold the oil giant responsible and said that they will ask for a thorough report about the cause of this spill … and steps are being taken to prevent any future spill.” They also cited concerns of future spills as BP moves into increased production.
This is not the only recent spill in the region. Last week Sunoco Logistics Partners spilled over 240 barrels of crude into the Ohio Nature Reserve.