Exxon has upwards of 200 people cleaning up the oil spill that released about 1,000 barrels of crude – or 42,000 gallons – into the Yellowstone River near Laurel, Mont.
Debris from flooding may have slammed debris into the pipeline, causing it to burst. The 20-year-old Silvertip Pipeline was buried under the river and was not shut off for almost an hour after the rupture. The pipeline delivered 40,000 barrels a day to a refinery in Billings.
Exxon officials are figuring out the extent of the damage. Floodwaters are spreading oil beyond riverbanks, into nearby ranch land and ecosystems.
Gary Pruessing; ExxonMobil Pipeline Co. President, apologized to “all of those people who are being affected by this.”
Many people who live and farm near the river worry about the long-term affects. A local paper published photos of wildlife covered in oil.
“Right now, we are not worried about how many dollars we have spent, right now we are worried about getting in, and responding to the damage, and making sure we can clean up,” stated Pruessing.
Governor Brian Schweitzer was in Billings Tuesday for a briefing on the oil spill followed by a tour of the impacted area from Laurel downstream.
“Disaster and Emergency Services, Department of Environmental Quality and other involved state agencies will monitor Exxon Mobile and any other responsible parties until this spill and impacts of this spill are completely cleaned up,” Governor Schweitzer said. “The parties responsible will restore the Yellowstone River.” The governor also said he thinks oil from the spill may have made its way downstream to North Dakota.
The public can contact the DES offices at 406-324-4777 to report about the spill or if they have questions or concerns.