ExxonMobil continues Yellowstone crude oil line cleanup

Christopher E. Smith
OGJ Pipeline Editor

HOUSTON, July 5 -- Cleanup efforts continue on a crude oil pipeline leak reported by ExxonMobil Corp. The major discovered an undetermined amount of oil in the early morning of July 2 released into the Yellowstone River from an ExxonMobil Pipeline Co. pipeline. The release originated from a 12-in. OD crude pipeline extending from Silver Tip, Mont., to Billings, Mont. ExxonMobil reports shutting down the pipeline within 7 min of pressure loss and immediately isolating the segment where the release occurred. The company estimates between 750 and 1,000 bbl of oil were released.

ExxonMobil has established a unified command to manage response activities, including recovering oil, monitoring air and water quality, and addressing questions from local residents. ExxonMobil is coordinating the response with the US Environmental Protection Agency, the Montana Department of Environmental Quality, US Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, Yellowstone County Disaster and Emergency Services, and Yellowstone County commissioners.

The unified command has organized the area downstream of the spill into four zones. Cleanup activities are focused in the first two zones, Laurel to Duck Creek Bridge, a distance of 7 miles from the spill location, and Duck Creek Bridge to Johnson Lane (12 miles). Active cleanup in these zones includes more than 48,000 ft of absorbent boom, 2,200 ft of containment boom, and 2,300 absorbent pads. Vacuum trucks and tankers have also been deployed to pick up and dispose of the oil.

Reconnaissance and evaluation activities are under way in the second two zones, Johnson Lane to Miles City (144 miles) and Miles City to Glendive (78 miles). Daily aerial flights over the river will identify additional oil locations and monitor and direct cleanup activity. ExxonMobil teams are also walking the parts of the shorelines where it is safe to do so.

Flooding in the area has so far complicated cleanup efforts. But ExxonMobil has eight boats staged at Coulson Park for deployment for reconnaissance and monitoring on the river.

The EPA has conducted water quality sampling and will publish results once complete. Municipal water systems have so far not reported any effects on water quality.

Contact Christopher E. Smith at chriss@ogjonline.com.

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