HAMMOND -- BP isn't sure when it'll be done cleaning up oil from the Hammond pipeline leak in August. The company has asked the federal government for more time.

Meanwhile, one resident remains displaced from her home.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency had ordered BP to clean up all oil and contaminated soil from the Aug. 17 leak by Wednesday. But BP crews are still sucking up oil from groundwater in an area around 175th Street and White Oak Avenue.

"We requested an extension of the completion date in the EPA order. At this point, we have not received a formal response," BP Whiting spokesman Tom Keilman told the Post-Tribune on Wednesday. "It's not my understanding we suggested we'd have remediation done by Sept. 15. That was an EPA order."

The EPA person responsible was not available for comment.

As of Wednesday, BP workers had removed more than 18,500 gallons of oil, Keilman said. In addition, crews sucked up more than 283,000 gallons of oily liquids and dug up an estimated 525 tons of soil as of Sept. 6. None of the residents in the area use well water, Keilman said.

BP and EPA continue to monitor air and water quality in the area to protect residents and EPA still tests air quality in homes of residents who request it. As a result of air tests, one resident remains evacuated from her home. Three other residents were in a hotel at BP's expense for about two weeks, but have returned to their homes.

He wasn't sure when the remediation might be complete.

"As part of the remediation plan, we're going to need to determine what's the best plan of action, at what point we'd be able to go ahead and return the intersection back to normal," Keilman said. "One of the reasons that we're requesting the extension is as a precaution. We're working with the city of Hammond because they want to replace a water main. There's going to be further excavation of the street in the future."

Hammond has three water pipes that go through the neighborhood -- a 6-inch pipe, an 8-inch pipe and a 30-inch pipe. Hammond Environmental Director Ron Novak said officials will meet today to discuss what portions of the pipes they will replace and the timeline.

"I want to stress that there's no danger of contamination to residents," he said.

Novak said that seals and connections on the pipes can break down, so the city wants to do everything possible to avoid future problems, including cleaning soil around pipes.

BP is still pressure testing the pipeline with water and won't return the pipeline to service until pressure testing has verified the line's integrity and the federal Department of Transportation has given approval to restart the pipeline. For preventive reasons, BP has now replaced two sections of pipeline in addition to the elbow-shaped one that leaked, Keilman said.

Keilman couldn't say how long oil may have leaked from the one-inch crack in the pipeline, which runs from the Whiting refinery to Manhattan, Ill.

Staff writer Christin Nance Lazerus contributed to this report.

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