Yellowstone & Oil Spill
July 6, 2011 by USA Post
Yellowstone & Oil Spill, Federal documents show that Exxon Mobil made nearly double what it publicly to completely seal a pipeline that stretched about 1,000 barrels of crude oil in the Yellowstone River.
Details on the company’s response to the blast pipe Montana came out Tuesday night at the Transportation Department ordered the company to bury the pipeline lower the river bed, where he is buried 5 to 8 feet underground to deliver 40,000 barrels of oil per day to a refinery in Billings.
The federal agency records indicate the pipeline was not shut all the way down 56 minutes after the break occurred on Friday near Laurel. That’s more than 30 minutes, company officials said Tuesday in a briefing with federal officials and Gov. Brian Schweitzer.
A spokesman for Exxon Mobil said that the most long relied on information provided to the agency by the company and the difference could have occurred because Exxon Mobil Pipeline Co. President Gary spoke without notes Pruessing front of him when he went to Schweitzer.
“Clearly, our communication with the controller (DOT) is precisely what we have,” said spokesman Alan Jeffers.
It was not the first time the company offered a clarification of its response and assessment of the spill. A day earlier, the company acknowledged the political pressures that affect the leak could extend well beyond a 10 mile stretch of the river at first said it was the most affected area. The company had earlier played down claims of government officials that the damage was spread over tens of kilometers.
The governor toured the area Tuesday as the stream rose above flood level and fueled fears that could push crude oil increasing flows of undamaged areas and vital new channel for the estimated fishing river. The conditions have hampered efforts to find the cause of the rupture.
The river has been flowing too quickly for teams to reach some areas of oil, and forecasters said mountain snowmelt adds to the high water levels. Officials speculated that the increase might push the oil to areas that have not been damaged.
Most observations have been made through flights.
A few miles downstream from the broken pipe, the owner Robert Castleberry said he had been away from home since Saturday because of dangerous gases from oil the river pushed through his yard and in the crawl space of home.
Castleberry wife suffers from heart disease and the smoke made breathing difficult, he said. While he appreciated the company’s promise to cover the direct costs of the couple, the fuel truck driver retired workers would be able to clean doubtful the black, sticky film that mixed the brush along the river.
“Exxon has been nothing but 100 percent with us,” he said. “But when you get into thick brush, which will be virtually impossible to clean.”
Company officials said federal and oil have only seen about 25 km downstream of the break near Laurel. But Schweitzer said he believes some have traveled hundreds of miles north of Dakota.
“At seven miles per hour, a little oil is now North Dakota. That’s a fact,” Schweitzer said. “I am asking everyone to come out and denounce what is seen in the river.”
Representatives from Exxon Mobil and the Environmental Protection Agency said he had no reports of oil beyond the town of Huntley.
Transport officials said Tuesday that oil was observed as far downstream of 240 miles of Terry, Montana. The agency said Exxon Mobil provided the information, but a company spokesman, Alan Jeffers, said he was unaware of any sightings.
Exxon plans to test the condition of the river with a boat, with eight others on standby if the launch is successful, Glass said.
Federal regulators have ordered Exxon to make security improvements to the pipeline 20 years of age. Among them was an order to re-bury the line to protect against external damage and risk assessment at the crossroads with a leak that the company intended to fulfill, said Jeffers.
“We will continue to their needs,” he said.
The company must also present a plan to restart the Department of Transportation before the oil can again flow through the line.
Schweitzer also ordered a review of the pipelines that cross the major and minor rivers in the state. Officials will look at the pipes age, location of valves and if similar to a broken pipe. He said the state has 88 such crossings.
Modern pipelines can be buried in 25 feet below the water bodies; Exxon Mobil Silvertip line was 5 to 8 feet below the bottom of the Yellowstone.
The line was temporarily closed in May after officials expressed concern Laurel could be at risk as the Yellowstone started to rise. The company restarted the line after one day, after a review of its safety record.
Schweitzer said he noticed the oil to accumulate in areas near the banks slow the movement of water near the islands and poplars is that support for microbes and insects that give life to river.
“Riparian areas are a biological treasure. That is the health and wealth of the river,” he said.
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