Surprise, Surprise: BP Doubles Initial Estimate of Lake Michigan Oil Spill

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Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/picken/

The BP (NYSE:BP) oil spill on Lake Michigan that occurred Monday reportedly forced about 39 barrels, or 1,638 gallons of crude oil, into the lake, stemming from a malfunction in a Whiting, Indiana-based BP oil refinery, which lies about 20 miles southeast of downtown Chicago, according to ABC and the Chicago Tribune.

The number is double what the company reported earlier this week. Reuters on Tuesday reported that oil totaled just 10 barrels, or approximately 500 gallons, which would make the discharge relatively small. In comparison, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010 leaked approximately 4.9 million barrels into the Gulf of Mexico.

Strong winds and cold weather helped cleanup crews capture and contain the oil, the Chicago Tribune reports. Winds blew most of the oil toward the shore of a shallow cove near the Arcelor Mittal steel mill, and the cool temperatures caused the oil to take on a waxy consistency that has made it easier to collect, according to an earlier report.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has since released a statement that said the spill is unlikely to have any long-term effects on Lake Michigan, which is currently an important source of drinking water for more than 7 million people in the Chicago area. The Chicago Tribune reports that the 68th Street water intake crib is just 8 miles northwest of the spill, although officials report that there have been no signs of oil drifting in that direction.

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