Crews are battling ice and freezing temperatures as they clean up a 50,000-gallon oil spill from a ruptured pipeline into the Yellowstone River in Montana.
The spill, which occurred at about 10 a.m. on January 17, caused the Bridger Pipeline Co. to close the 10-inch-wide Poplar pipeline, which carried 42,000 barrels per day, Reuters reported.
“Our primary concern is to minimize the environmental impact of the release and keep our responders safe as we clean up from this unfortunate incident,” said Tad True, vice president of Bridger, to the Associated Press.
It is something of a déjà vu for those who recall the rupture of an ExxonMobil Corp. pipeline during flooding in July 2011, which dumped 63,000 gallons of oil that coated 85 miles of riverbank, AP said.
Reports started surfacing on Sunday January 18 of oily-tasting drinking water in Glendive, which is about nine miles downriver, the Billings Gazette reported. While officials said it wasn’t clear whether the drinking water had been outright contaminated, but were bringing in truckloads of drinking water for 6,000 residents as a precaution, the Billings Gazette said. Tests are being done to determine whether a public health threat exists, the paper said.
Meanwhile, some of the spilled oil was trapped beneath ice in the river, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) told the Gazette. The dangers are twofold: The oil can’t be seen beneath the ice, the EPA said; at the same time, the ice was too thin to support the necessary equipment.
The Poplar pipeline is part of a system carrying crude from the Bakken oil fields in Montana and North Dakota, according to Reuters, adding that a cause for the breach has not yet been found.