Improved weather conditions enable cleanup operations to continue near BP refinery in Indndiana

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WHITING, Ind. — Weather conditions improved overnight enabling cleanup operations and assessment activities to progress today near the BP Whiting Refinery in Whiting, Ind.

High winds and heavy surf created unsafe conditions for contractors and assessment team personnel both Friday and Saturday, suspending activities. A Coast Guard helicopter returning from a separate mission Friday conducted an overflight assessment of the area and did not observe any oil sheen on the water.

A shoreline assessment team made up of representatives from the Coast Guard, the Environmental Protection Agency and BP conducts an underwater survey near the BP Whiting Refinery in Whiting, Ind., March 30, 2014. Weather conditions improved significantly overnight, enabling cleanup operations to resume and progress. (Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer Alan Haraf)

A shoreline assessment team made up of representatives from the Coast Guard, the Environmental Protection Agency and BP conducts an underwater survey near the BP Whiting Refinery in Whiting, Ind., March 30, 2014. (Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer Alan Haraf)

Earlier today, the assessment team, comprised of representatives from the Coast Guard, the Environmental Protection Agency, and contractors from BP, resumed assessing the southeast rocky wall of the cove near the refinery to ensure remaining small areas of oiled pebbles were removed by cleanup crews.

The assessment team also reinspected the beach area of the cove to ensure that no oil remnants had washed ashore as a result of heavy surf during the past two days. The walkthrough found no visible oil.

With the improved surf conditions, members of the assessment team were able to get underway on a BP Fire Department boat to conduct a comprehensive survey of the path of discharge in search of potentially submerged oil. Other members waded into the water closer to shore also conducting the submerged oil survey.

After taking more than 36 underwater probes, the teams did not see any sheening or oil present in or on the water.

As a result of the absence of sheen and oil from the surface of the water for several days, the Coast Guard Federal On-Scene Coordinator representative recommended removing all of the boom with the exception of small area surrounding the outfall of the water treatment facility of the refinery, which was the source of the discharge. That section of boom will remain in place until it is confirmed that no oil is in the refinery’s cooling system.

As a result of today’s surveys and progress, the Coast Guard, EPA and BP contractor recommend that the cleanup contractors continue to monitor the beach and rocky shoreline to the southeast until Thursday, when a Determination of Clean Survey is conducted by the assessment team.

“Although weather conditions limited active cleanup operations during the past two days, I was extremely pleased that we were able to resume our proactive cleanup and assessment activities today. BP continues to ensure personnel in the field are following recommended cleanup techniques along the affected rocky shoreline,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Jeremy Thomas, the Coast Guard Federal On-scene Coordinator Representative, a marine science technician and member of the assessment team.

Click the photo for more pictures from the assessment.

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