At 12:15pm on Friday April 24th, the Sanitary District of Michigan City was made aware of a report of a sheen on Lake Michigan approximately 300 yards northeast of the lighthouse. The sheen was discovered by the US Coast Guard at 10:45 am, and reported to the National Response Center at 12:05pm, by US Coast Guard, Michigan City. They reported, “The discovery of an unknown sheen from an unknown source in Lake Michigan.”
Upon being notified of the potential threat, the Sanitary District immediately notified the Water Department, Park Department, Port Authority, and the Mayor’s Office. Each Department began monitoring their facilities with extra attention being afforded to drinking water intake of Michigan City.
The City also coordinated with the Coast Guard and IDEM, identifying booms and oil absorbent contained materials at the ready here in Michigan City, if they were needed. The LaPorte County and Porter County HazMat teams were also aware of the situation and placed on standby.
The United States Coast Guard is responsible for containing oil releases in Lake Michigan, but according to Petty Officer Heiple, they chose not to respond because the sheen was identified as a light sheen caused by gasoline. He indicated that the sheen was likely caused by 1-3 gallons of gasoline from a small watercraft, and that such sheens cannot be contained. He further explained that Lake Michigan was choppy, and the sheen was expected to dissipate in a few hours, before reaching the shoreline or causing any potential harm to the drinking water intake.
There were no reports of the sheen impacting the drinking water intake or reaching the Michigan City shoreline.