In honor of July 4th, I'm ending every headline with "For America." (Which idea came from @KenLowery on Twitter.)
Exxon cleanup under way in Yellowstone River | Business | Dallas Business, Texas Busines...
LAUREL, Mont. — An oil pipeline that spewed tens of thousands of gallons of crude oil into Montana's Yellowstone River was temporarily shut down in May because of concerns over rising waters, and regulators twice in the last year warned Exxon Mobil of several safety violations along the line.
Exxon Mobil officials estimated that up to 1,000 barrels, or 42,000 gallons, spilled late Friday night before the flow from the damaged pipeline was stopped. The break near Laurel has fouled miles of riverbank and forced municipalities and irrigation districts to close intakes across eastern Montana.
By early Monday the company had received 70 calls into a hotline set up for property owners suffering from the spill, although spokesman Alan Jeffers said not all of those were reports of oil.
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The 12-inch pipeline, which delivered about 40,000 barrels of crude today to a refinery in Billings, was shut down in May because of concerns over rising waters following heavy rains in Eastern Montana , Exxon Mobil Pipeline Co. president Gary Pruessing said Sunday.
The company decided to restart the line after examining its safety record and deciding the risk was low, he said.
The cause of the spill has not yet been determined, but company and government officials have speculated that high waters in recent weeks may have scoured the river bottom and exposed the pipeline to debris that could have damaged the pipe. Eastern Montana received record rainfall in the last month and also has a huge snowpack in the mountains that is melting, which has resulted in widespread flooding.
"We are very curious about what may have happened at the bottom of the river. We don't have that yet," Pruessing said
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EPA spokeswoman Sonya Pennock said its staff had spotted oil at least 40 miles downstream. There were other reports of oil as far as 100 miles away, near the town of Hysham.
The uncertainty frustrated riverfront property owners such as Linda Corbin, who worried that severe damage would be revealed as the flooding Yellowstone recedes in coming weeks. The stench of spilled crude was obvious in Corbin's backyard - a reminder of the potential problems lurking beneath the surface of the nearby river.
"The smell has been enough to gag a maggot," said Corbin, 64. "I just hope it doesn't come too far because I'm on a well, and I won't appreciate having to shower in Exxon oil."