Western oil pipelines have a history of serious problems
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — According to the EPA, there are now about 350 responders at the site of a July 1 oil spill in Montana, working to clean up about 1,000 barrels of oil that leaked into the Yellowstone Rive after a pipeline ruptured.
The EPA is directing and overseeing cleanup activities since arriving at the site. Personnel continue to walk the shores and deploy absorbent boom along the river banks to absorb oil that has collected in slow water areas along the shoreline. Responders continue to work to assess where the oil has traveled and what impact it may be having.
EPA Region 8 Administrator Jim Martin briefed Governor Schweitzer and other state officials on the cleanup operation today and led the group to view on-site response activities.
The river has been divided into 4 divisions for planning and operational purposes. Initial cleanup activities are concentrated in the first two divisions — from Laurel to Duck Creek Bridge and Duck Creek Bridge to Johnson Lane — where responders have identified the most oil-impacted areas. The third river segment encompasses the area from Johnson Lane to Miles City and will also undergo reconnaissance and cleanup. The fourth division includes the remaining downstream portion of the river from Miles City to Glendive.
EPA is coordinating its response actions with the Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service and state and local agencies and will take whatever steps are necessary to ensure ExxonMobil, as the responsible party, addresses any and all potential impacts of this spill.
In addition, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration is responsible for determining the cause of the pipeline failure and has been onsite since Saturday.
Among local residents, concern is growing that high water in the river has pushed the oil beyond the boundaries of the clean-up effort and back into areas that have already been cleaned.
Responding to reports of strong odors, EPA officials said, “We would expect that these odors would decrease as more of the spilled oil is recovered. If you are smelling a ‘gas-station-like’ odor, you may be smelling volatile organic compounds, or VOCs. The VOCs in oils are benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene.
“It is important to understand that people are able to smell some VOCs and other oil-related chemicals at levels much lower than would cause long-term health problems. Some of the chemicals that cause odors may cause head aches, dizziness, nausea or vomiting. If you are sensitive to these chemicals, stay indoors. If possible, close windows and doors, turn your air conditioner on and set it to a recirculation mode. If you have severe nausea or other medical issues, please see your health care provider as soon as possible.”
Filed under: energy, Environment, oil drilling Tagged: | Billings Montana oil spill, Brian Schweitzer, Environment, ExxonMobil, Montana, Oil spill, Summit County News, United States Department of Transportation, United States Environmental Protection Agency, United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Yellowstone River oil spill