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Mid-Mich. Gas Leak Larger Than Previously Reported

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(Photo by Tim Boyle/Getty Images, File)

(Photo by Tim Boyle/Getty Images, File)

WHITE OAK TWP. (AP) – A gasoline leak in mid-Michigan is anywhere from two to four times as large as first reported, according to new estimates provided by Marathon Pipe Line LLC.

The company originally estimated that 126,000 gallons had leaked into the soil before it was detected April 13 by a man in Ingham County’s White Oak Township whose 16-acre farm backs up to four fuel storage tanks.

Officials confirmed the larger leak after a memo explaining it to county officials was obtained by the Lansing State Journal on Thursday.

“As a result of this ongoing investigation and recent deployment of new technology we have revised our initial estimate. We now estimate the released product to be between 7,000 barrels and 11,000 barrels,” the company memo reads.

At 42 gallons per barrel, the new estimate puts the size of the leak at between 294,000 gallons and 462,000 gallons.

The company has not said how long the pipe was leaking before it was discovered or why its safety mechanisms failed to notice it was losing gasoline.

Marathon is set to hold a public meeting at the township hall sometime next week to discuss the revised estimate, said Kim Sakowski of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, which is overseeing the cleanup effort.

Nearby homeowner Ashley Ray, 26, said she and other residents are worried about the safety of their drinking water.

“I’m more concerned now that it will eventually get into my ground water and contaminate my well and cause my husband and our neighbors to get sick,” Ray told the Lansing State Journal after learning of the larger leak estimates.

Environmental and health officials have been monitoring and testing nearby wells since the leak was discovered.

All tests have come back clean, but some worry that potential danger remains.

A larger spill could mean a longer cleanup, which could give the leaked gasoline more time to seep toward the water line, said county Drain Commissioner Pat Lindemann.

“While the volume has increased, we remain confident that the release remains contained,” said Marathon Pipe Line spokesman Robert Calmus. “Our number one concern is doing what’s right. We are going to do everything possible to remediate this to the satisfaction of our neighbors and of the government agencies involved.”

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.

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