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US EPA Response to BP Whiting Oil Spill

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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, US Coast Guard, and Indiana Department of Environmental Management were among those responding to the spill of an unknown volume of oil into Lake Michigan from the BP refinery in Whiting, Indiana. EPA officials say BP notified the federal government’s National Response Center on March 24, 2014 at 5:25 p.m. that a spill had occurred.   EPA has issued a Notice of Federal Interest, which formally advises BP of the federal government’s involvement in the spill and directs the company to conduct a cleanup.  Under EPA oversight, BP has deployed more than 2,000 feet of boom to contain the oil. In addition, the company has used vacuum trucks to remove about 5,200 gallons of an oil/water mixture from the spill location. BP crews also are combing a nearby company-owned beach for oil globs and conducting air monitoring to ensure the safety of the public.  The U.S. Coast Guard has flown over the area and has not observed any visible sheen beyond the boomed area. EPA will continue to work with the U.S. Coast Guard, the Indiana Department of Environmental Management and BP to take measures to contain and clean up the oil. At this point there is no estimate of cleanup cost or duration.
BP issued this update Tuesday evening:
Since BP’s last update on the recent crude oil release from the Whiting Refinery into Lake Michigan, there has been no further discharge of oil.
Based on preliminary information, BP believes an upset at a crude distillation unit may have sent crude oil into the refinery’s cooling water outfall and then into the lake. BP’s investigation of the incident continues and the refinery has taken steps to prevent another discharge.
Meanwhile, response efforts continue. 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.
BP has not yet determined precisely how much oil was discharged but expects to be able to provide an estimate as early as Wednesday.
After discovering the discharge late Monday afternoon, BP notified the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. EPA and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management and all have been working closely to ensure the protection of personnel, the environment and surrounding communities.


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