No more oil found in Lake Michigan

On March 24, 2014, a refinery malfunction in BP’s northwestern Indiana plant created an oil spill into Lake Michigan not far from the city of Chicago. BP has been working on containing the oil from the lake. It has been estimated that 15-39 barrels of oil ended up in the lake, translating into 630-1,638 gallons.

It has been reported that all the oil has been contained and removed, and no more oil has been found. BP, the Coast Guard and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have been inspecting the areas close to the refinery in Whiting, Indiana. Workers removed oil from a whole half a mile area close to the shoreline.

Oil spills can occur anywhere. When spills happen in or near water, cleanup and restoration is extensive and challenging. There are several things that can affect cleanups such as: temperature, the oil spilled, and if the land nearby is also affected. Land only oil spills are much easier to manage, stop and contain quickly.

Spills like the one in Lake Michigan can deeply affect the environment and negatively impact wildlife. When oil seeps into the water, it can get into the fur of mammals reducing their ability to stay warm and float. Oil can also affect an animal’s digestive tract and make them very sick as well as cause eye blindness. Spilled oil can also kill fish, shellfish and other organisms along the shoreline.

There are several methods used by crews to rectify an oil spill:

• Clean up crews use skimmers to skim the oil off the top of the water.
• Sorbents are put in the water to soak up the oil right away.
• Biological products are put in the water to try to break up the oil.
• Booms are used as large barriers to corral up the oil and scoop it off the water.
• Vacuums and shovels are used to remove the oil from beaches and shoreline areas.

In the Lake Michigan oil spill case, quick action by crews with good methods has contained the area and extricated the oil. Hopefully, the environment will be restored.