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EPA update on Yellowstone River oil spill (Silvertip Pipeline), July 18, 2011

Release Date: 07/18/2011
Contact Information: Lisa McClain-Vanderpool, (303) 501-4027, (mcclain-vanderpool.lisa@epa.gov); Wendy Thomi, (406) 351-9014

EPA update on Yellowstone River oil spill (Silvertip Pipeline), July 18, 2011
Lisa McClain-Vanderpool, (303) 501-4027, (mcclain-vanderpool.lisa@epa.gov); Wendy Thomi, (406) 351-9014

(Billings, Mont --, July 18, 2011) Over the weekend, EPA, State and federal partners oversaw ExxonMobil Pipeline Co.’s removal of all the residual oil and oily water mixture from the two segments of pipeline on either side of the break location. The threat of secondary releases from the ruptured portion of the pipeline has been eliminated. Going forward, the pipeline break site is under the jurisdiction of DOT’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA).

The river levels continue to drop, giving our Shoreline Cleanup and Assessment Technique (SCAT) teams and cleanup crews more access to vegetation and shoreline. At this point approximately 47 river miles of shoreline have been assessed. Overall there is light to moderate oil coverage on most shoreline and island vegetation representing 10% or less of oil coverage in a given area. We are also finding large, more heavily oiled flood debris piles at various locations along the shoreline and on the islands. In developing cleanup techniques we are carefully considering wildlife and habitat to ensure our remedies do not cause more harm than good.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service has reported that 19 oiled animals have been seen (but not yet captured), including a bald eagle, and 10 dead animals that have been collected for analysis. Five animals have been captured for cleaning and care. For more information, please contact Leith Edgar, USFWS, 303-236-4580.

ExxonMobil has received a substantial number of comments from EPA, Montana state agencies and other stakeholders on their draft work plan. They will revise the draft based on these comments and submit it to EPA for approval by tomorrow evening.

PLEASE NOTE: Our daily media briefings occur now via conference call only, at 3:00pm MDT. For conference call dial-in information, please contact Lisa McClain-Vanderpool listed above. We will continue to post the latest information including monitoring data and progress on clean-up and restoration as it becomes available on our website, www.epa.gov/yellowstoneriverspill.

BACKGROUND: At approximately 11:00 PM on Friday, July 1 a break occurred in a 12-inch pipeline owned by ExxonMobil Pipeline Co. 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 Pipeline Co. 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 Pipeline Co., the responsible party, accountable for assessment and cleanup.

Please visit http://www.epa.gov/yellowstoneriverspill for the latest information, data, and maps.

The Montana DEQ encourages people to call the Governor’s information line at 406-657-0231 with questions, concerns or comments, or visit www.yellowstoneriveroilspill.mt.gov.