Society

British Petroleum Doubles Size Estimate Of Lake Michigan Oil Spill

| by Jared Keever

Just days after announcing that a leak, which spilled oil into Lake Michigan, had been stopped and the oil contained, British Petroleum doubled its estimate of the size of the spill. 

The leak was discovered Monday, according to a Chicago Tribune story, and cleanup crews went into action to contain the spill. 

NPR quoted a BP press release describing the cleanup efforts.

"Lines of boom have been deployed to contain the oil and wind has blown oil toward the shore, where crews are vacuuming it out of the water and cleaning the limited quantities that have reached land between the refinery's wastewater treatment plant and a nearby steel mill," the statement said.

Original estimates put the volume of the spill at 18 barrels but new estimates now put the quantity at 39 barrels, or 1,638 gallons of crude oil. 

This is the first spill from the refinery, located in Whiting, Ind., and it comes on the heels of BP’s completion of a contested $4 billion overhaul of the facility. Those upgrades were undertaken to help BP refine oil from the heavy tar sands being delivered from Canada.

Senators Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Mark Kirk, R.-Ill. wrote a letter to John Minge, the top U.S. official for BP, asking for a meeting to discuss the facility in the leak’s aftermath.

“This spill raises questions about the long-term safety and reliability of BP’s new, expanded production at Whiting,” the letter read. “It is in all of our best interests … to ensure that this greater processing capacity will do no harm to Lake Michigan.”

The spill raised particular concerns for nearby Chicagoans. Lake Michigan supplies drinking water to 7 million residents of the city.

“There was a leak the other day, and they’re calling it minor,” Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel said Wednesday according to the website ThinkProgress. “I expect a full accounting to the public and the city of Chicago of the damage that was done, how much, what the cleanup efforts were, how comprehensive they have been and what actions the company will take to ensure this doesn’t happen again.”

The leak occurred just eight miles southeast of the freshwater intake for the city.

According to the Chicago Tribune, no Indiana officials have commented on the spill.

Sources: Chicago Tribune, NPR, ThinkProgress