Schneider, Illinois House members ask BP for meeting after Lake Michigan oil spill

<p>Congressman Brad Schneider</p>

Congressman Brad Schneider

Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Deerfield) and several Illinois House members have asked to meet with BP after an oil spill in Lake Michigan. 

U.S. Representatives Mike Quigley (IL-05), Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), Brad Schneider (IL-10), Dan Lipinski (IL-03), Tammy Duckworth (IL-08) and Danny K. Davis (IL-07) asked for a meeting with BP after oil from BP’s Whiting refinery in Indiana spilled into Lake Michigan earlier this week. The Illinois members also asked for a report about the cause of the spill, an analysis of the impact of the Whiting Refinery’s production increase on Lake Michigan and information on what is being done to prevent future spills. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) are also sending a companion letter to BP.

 

“Any unanticipated spill is cause for concern, but given the Whiting refinery’s recent expansion of its operations to double the amount of heavy oil sands being processed, this spill raises questions about the long-term safety and reliability of BP’s new, expanded production at Whiting.  It is in all of our best interests, including Lake Michigan and the communities and industries that rely on it, to ensure that this greater processing capacity will do no harm to Lake Michigan,” wrote the Illinois members. “We urge you to explore every avenue to expeditiously recover any spilled oil, remediate the damage where possible, and minimize future threats the Whiting refinery poses to this irreplaceable resource.”

 

Text of today’s letter is below:

 

March 27, 2014

Mr. John Minge

CEO, BP America Inc.

501 Westlake Park Blvd

Houston, TX 77079-2604

 

Dear Mr. Minge:

We are deeply concerned about this week’s oil spill at the BP Whiting Refinery on the shore of Lake Michigan.  We would appreciate meeting with you to discuss BP’s plan to manage the potential public health and environmental threats to surrounding communities related to the contamination of Lake Michigan. 

 

Any unanticipated spill is cause for concern, but given the Whiting refinery’s recent expansion of its operations to double the amount of heavy oil sands being processed, this spill raises questions about the long-term safety and reliability of BP’s new, expanded production at Whiting.  It is in all of our best interests, including Lake Michigan and the communities and industries that rely on it, to ensure that this greater processing capacity will do no harm to Lake Michigan. 

 

While the cause of the spill has been determined and efforts are underway to clean up the oil, we remain troubled by certain aspects of the incident: 

  • BP has yet to give any concrete estimates on the amount of oil that was spilled or provide more detail about its chemical composition.  This information is critical for authorities as they attempt to asses any potential harmful effects caused by the spill.  When does BP expect to release this data?
  • Lake Michigan provides drinking water to more than seven million people and several Illinois towns intake their water from locations that are near the spilled oil.  What is BP doing to ensure the drinking water for these cities has not been contaminated?
  • Current clean-up efforts have focused on oil sitting on the surface of the Lake.  What has been done to determine how much oil might have settled on the floor of Lake Michigan?  What assurance is BP prepared to give that all the oil is removed from the Lake? 

Lake Michigan is a critically important ecosystem, not just for Illinois, but for the entire Great Lakes region.  Protecting the Lake must be a priority.  We urge you to explore every avenue to expeditiously recover any spilled oil, remediate the damage where possible, and minimize future threats the Whiting refinery poses to this irreplaceable resource.   We look forward to meeting with you to discuss these concerns.

Sincerely,

 

Mike Quigley

United States Representative

 

Jan Schakowsky

United States Representative

 

Bradley S. Schneider

United States Representative

 

Daniel Lipinski

United States Representative

 

Tammy Duckworth

United States Representative

 

Danny K. Davis

United States Representative

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