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BP more than doubles estimate of oil spill in Lake Michigan

BP, the petroleum giant, has more than doubled its estimate of how much crude oil it spilled this week into Lake Michigan, a source of drinking water for some 7 million people in Chicago and its suburbs.

On Monday, BP reported the spill into the lake from its Whiting refinery in northwest Indiana. The U.S. Coast Guard and the federal Environmental Protection Agency have been at the site and have been involved in the cleanup.

“Any time you get any type of chemical in land or water, no one wants to see it,” Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Alan Haraf, a spokesman, told the Los Angeles Times. “We can’t say for certain, but the danger seems pretty low.”

That is similar to the EPA assessment this week, where its inspectors found minimal oiling of the shore and that the spill likely posed no long-term risk to the lake. In an email, EPA spokesman Francisco Arcaute said the agency had no comment on BP’s updated spill estimate.

The company had placed the spill at nine to 18 barrels, but based on the amounts of oil recovered, it increased the estimate to 15 to 39 barrels, the company said in a statement on Thursday. One barrel equals 42 gallons.

By comparison, the BP spill into the Gulf of Mexico was estimated at about 4.9 million barrels.

“BP is working closely with the U.S. Coast Guard, EPA and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management and will continue to keep the public and relevant authorities informed as events warrant,” the oil company said in a statement.

Workers at the refinery reported an oil leak Monday afternoon, and the EPA said it was plugged by 9 p.m.

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