The U.S. Coast Guard and the Environmental Protection Agency are responding to the report of an oil discharge into Lake Michigan from the BP Whiting Refinery in Whiting, Ind.
The Coast Guard received a report Monday night from watchstanders the National Response Center of a sheen from an unknown substance discharging from an outflow adjacent to the refinery.
Personnel from Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit Chicago and the EPA responded last night and found an area of about 5,000 square feet covered in crude oil.
BP established an incident command post and deployed about 1,000 feet of boom, along with six vacuum trucks to begin initial containment and recovery operations in a cove adjacent to the refinery.
Tuesday morning, Coast Guard pollution responders observed some of the substance had made landfall along the shoreline of the cove; they found tarballs less than 1 centimeter in diameter, averaging 20 tarballs per 10 feet of shoreline.
In addition, a helicopter crew from Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City, Mich., conducted an overflight of the scene and did not report any sheen or pockets of oil beyond the refinery.
BP has established an air monitoring program on shore to ensure safety of the public and responders.
The Coast Guard and EPA are overseeing BP's cleanup plan and operations.
Shoreline cleanup assessment teams, made up of personnel from the Coast Guard, EPA, Indiana Department of Environmental Management and BP, will survey the shoreline that may have been affected by the discharge. The outcome of this survey will be used to recommend cleanup strategies to the incident commander.