(Adds size of spill, detail on cleanup, changes dateline)
By Karl Plume and Edward McAllister
Whiting, Indiana, March 25 Oil leaked from BP
Plc's Whiting refinery in Indiana into Lake
Michigan after a malfunction at a recently upgraded processing
unit on Monday afternoon, the company confirmed on Tuesday.
Between 10 and 12 barrels, or around 500 gallons, of crude
oil spilled into the lake, according to a local CBS report
citing a source. That would make this a relatively small
discharge; last week, a pipeline owned by Sunoco Logistics
Partners spilled 240 barrels into an Ohio nature preserve.
The leak had stopped on Tuesday and no injuries were
reported, London-based BP said in a statement. It declined to
comment on the volume of oil spilled.
As crews worked on the cleanup on this industrial stretch of
shoreline, the effect on Lake Michigan was not immediately
clear. Two dozen workers were shoveling up sand on the shore
that looked lightly tarred by oil. A vacuum truck was sucking up
Oil spills are not uncommon in the United States, where
drilling is at an all-time high and energy production is on the
rise. Still, Monday's spill will probably spur more
environmental opposition to the Whiting refinery, which has been
under local scrutiny for releasing pollutants into Lake
The spill may also be another blow to BP, whose reputation
was tarnished by the Macondo well blowout in the Gulf of Mexico
in April 2010. That was the worst offshore spill in U.S.
history, spewing millions of barrels of oil into the ocean.
Only this month was BP allowed to bid again on new federal
drilling leases after a two-year government ban was lifted.
"It's troubling to hear that this spill occurred," said
Lyman Welch, Water Quality Program Director at the Alliance for
the Great Lakes group. "It's a reminder that even when
precautions are taken, spills occur into the Great Lakes and we
need to be vigilant to protect out drinking water supplies."
BP laid down containment boom on the water and said the oil
was confined to a cove between the refinery's wastewater
treatment plant and a steel mill.
Winds pushed the oil toward the shore and cold temperatures
were causing it to harden into a waxy consistency, making it
easier to collect, BP spokesman Scott Dean said.
"I've had no reports of any wildlife impacted," said Dean.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Coast Guard
and state regulators were at the scene.
The largest crude distillation unit at the
405,000-barrel-per-day refinery was operating normally again on
Tuesday after a malfunction led to the leak, Dean said.
The 260,000-bpd crude distillation unit, called Pipestill
12, was the centerpiece of a $4 billion refit of the Whiting
refinery completed late last year to run large amounts of oil
from Canada's tar sands fields in Alberta.
A crude distillation unit does the initial refining of crude
oil coming into a refinery and provides feedstock for all other
units at the plant.
The refinery has been increasing the amount of Canadian
crude oil running through Pipestill 12 during the first quarter
of this year.
Environmental groups opposed the BP upgrade, saying use of
the Canadian crude would increase pollution from the refinery
into Lake Michigan.
The Whiting refinery is the primary focus of BP's U.S.
refining strategy to use only plants in the northern United
States that have in easy access to Canadian crude oil. BP sold
plants in Texas and California last year as part of the
BP's American depositary shares were up 0.8 percent
at $47.09 in afternoon New York Stock Exchange trading. The
company's stock rose 1.2 percent in London.
(Reporting by Edward McAllister, Selam Gerekidan and Joshua
Schneyer in New York, Arpan Varghese in Bangalore, Erwin Seba
and Kristen Hays in Houston and David Sheppard in London;
Editing by Lisa Von Ahn, Jeff Benkoe and Marguerita Choy)