On Saturday morning, a pipeline in Montana spilled up to 50,000 gallons of crude oil into the Yellowstone River, the pipeline’s operator confirmed Sunday night.
Some residents are reportedly smelling and tasting oil in their drinking water, causing the EPA to test water samples and the city water plant to cease drawing water from the river.
The 12-inch diameter steel pipe breached and spilled anywhere from 12,600 to 50,000 gallons of oil nine miles upriver from the town of Glendive, with an unknown amount of it spilling into the partially frozen river, according to a statement from Bridger Pipeline LLC. The company said the spill occurred at 10 a.m. and they “shut in” the flow of oil just before 11 a.m. — meaning that though the pipeline section could still empty itself of its contents, no new addition oil would flow into the spilled area.
“Oil has made it into the river,” Bridger spokesperson Bill Salvin confirmed to the AP on Monday. “We do not know how much at this point.” Observers spotted oil, some of which was trapped under the ice, up to 60 miles downstream from Glendive. Paul Peronard, the EPA’s on-scene coordinator, said crews were attempting to use booms to prevent the spill from spreading further, but the ice on top of the river was forcing them to “hunt and peck” through it.