At approximately 11:00 PM on Friday, July 1 a break occurred in a 12-inch pipeline owned by ExxonMobil that resulted in a spill of crude oil into the Yellowstone River approximately 20 miles upstream of Billings, Montana. The current estimate of the amount of oil released remains at 1,000 barrels based on information provided by ExxonMobil. EPA's primary concern is protecting people's health and the environment. EPA will remain on-site to ensure cleanup and restoration efforts do just that. EPA continues to hold ExxonMobil, the responsible party, accountable for assessment and cleanup.
There are 640 personnel on site with 420 currently in the field engaged in cleanup or sampling activities. Cleanup crews have used 40,000 linear feet of materials such as absorbent booms and sweeps, and 8,600 square feet of materials such as absorbent pads. Crews have recovered 942 barrels of oily liquids and 505 cubic yards of oily solids. Liquid waste is being processed at ExxonMobil’s refinery near Laurel, while solid waste is being stored until it is transferred to a landfill in Bennett, CO.
EPA will also perform soil and sediment sampling today in addition to continued air, surface water and drinking water sampling. EPA has developed sampling plans in conjunction with the state of Montana and federal cleanup partners. These sampling plans use the state of Montana regulatory standards to ensure we are being protective of human health and the environment.
Shoreline Cleanup & Assessment Technique (SCAT) teams are continuing to carefully assess and clean up the most heavily affected areas of the spill and are combing the riverbanks again today.
“Increased access means increased progress,” said Steve Merritt, EPA On-Scene Coordinator. “The number of accessible sites for assessment and cleanup is going to increase as water levels continue to fall. We’ve seen a dramatic increase in the amount of shoreline our SCAT teams can access in the past 24 hours.”
EPA will hold a community meeting at the Laurel High School on Wednesday, July 13th at 6:30 p.m. The high school is located at 203 East 8th Street in Laurel. At the event, EPA will provide an update on the cleanup and local public health representatives will address human health issues associated with the spill. In addition state and other federal agencies will be available to answer questions. Company representatives will also be available. An availability session to address specific needs will be held afterward. Media are encouraged to attend.
Tomorrow’s media availability session will be held at the Governors Information Center in Billings at 11 a.m. The building is located at 424 Morey Street in Billings. The Montana DEQ encourages people to call the Governor’s information line at 657-0231 with questions, concerns or comments, or visit www.yellowstoneriveroilspill.mt.gov