BP Spilled Oil Into Lake Michigan

By David A. Kaiser

BP Spilled Oil In Lake Michigan
BP outsourced cleanup crew on the beach. Mar. 25th, 2014

Oil spilled because of a malfunction at the Whiting refinery in Indiana, British Petroleum confirmed that a malfunctioning processing unit caused oil to leak into Lake Michigan. Potentially affecting drinking water for 7 million people in Chicago.

Cleanup began at a local beach. While an oil sheen wasn’t visible a oil blocking boom was setup to prevent any more oil from spreading out into the lake. The cleanup was made easier by the cold weather, and windows blowing contamination back to the shore. Oil extraction vacuum trucks were used on the beach to remove tar balls and oily waxy particles.

This particular refinery refines crude tar sands shipped in from Canada. This oil is very dirty and requires special equipment to extract the oil from the sand. This is particularly disturbing because they plan to expand refining to this plant that’s next to Lake Michigan, a major source of fresh water used for Chicago. Last night the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and both Illinois Senators expressed concerns regarding this spill and chance for more oil to be refined.

“We cannot be too careful when it comes to protecting the health and safety of Lake Michigan, which serves as the primary source of drinking water for millions of people in and around Chicago. Protecting our Great Lakes and the economic and environmental impact they have on our state should be a top priority. We are encouraged to learn that the source of the spill has been closed, the oil is contained and conditions on Lake Michigan are such that the impact of the spill could be minimal. We also understand that work to remove the oil from the Lake is well underway.

“However, three weeks ago, BP announced a plan to nearly double its processing of heavy crude oil at its BP Whiting Refinery. Given today’s events and BP’s decision to increase production, we are extremely concerned about the possibility of a future spill that may not be so easily contained. We plan to hold BP accountable for this spill and will ask for a thorough report about the cause of this spill, the impact of the Whiting Refinery’s production increase on Lake Michigan, and what steps are being taken to prevent any future spill.” – Senators Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.)

The leak stopped Tuesday with no injuries, BP said in a statement. It declined to comment on the volume of oil spilled. No one in the media has asked WHY the oil leaked from the refinery. Perhaps because the refinery is already discharging over 1,000lbs of ammonia a day from the refinery? Found online is the actual discharge rate from the refinery.

“BP has obtained regulatory approval to increase average daily discharge limits for ammonia from 1,030 to 1,584 pounds per day and for total suspended solids (TSS) from 3646 to 4925 pounds per day to modernize the Whiting refinery and greatly increase the amount of Canadian heavy crude it can process.” – BP Confirms Spill at Whiting Refinery

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That’s 375,950 to 578,525lbs of ammonia dumped into Lake Michigan per year!

Just as a visual, that’s nearly 22 dump trucks full of ammonia dumped into Lake Michigan each year!

BP Whiting Refinery toxic water ammonia discharge


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