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New studies suggest the amount of oil gushing out from BP's damaged oil well in the Gulf of Mexico could be double what was previously estimated.
US scientists said on Thursday that between 20,000 and 40,000 barrels per day (3.2 million and 6.4 million litres) of oil flowed from the well before June 3, when BP's remotely operated robots sawed through an underwater pipe to clear the way for a capping procedure.
That is more than four times the amount of oil the Exxon Valdez spilled in Alaska in 1989, the previous worst spill in US history.
The US congress voted to make more money from a trust fund available to the Coast Guard to pay for its response to the spill on Thursday, removing a $100m limit that would have meant the Coast Guard running out of money by next week.
The trust fund, which has about $1.6bn, is financed by a tax of eight cents per barrel on oil produced by or imported into the US. The House of Representatives passed a bill last month to increase the tax to 34 cents a barrel while the senate is considering an increase to 41 cents.
BP has spent about $1.43bn on compensation and attempts to stop the oil leak so far [AFP]
The bill now goes to Obama to be signed into law but his homeland security secretary, Janet Napolitano, said that "while these funds will allow us to continue mounting an all-hands-on-deck, relentless response, our commitment to holding BP accountable for all costs associated with this disaster … has not wavered".