Over the weekend, a Montana pipeline spilled more than 40,000 gallons of crude oil into the Yellowstone River, causing the local water supply to smell and taste like oil, the Billings Gazette reported.
The spill occurred at about 10 am on Saturday morning and the flow of oil was “shut in,” just before 11 am. During that time, up to 50,000 gallons were spilled near the Yellowstone River, which is partially frozen.
Bridger Pipeline LLC confirmed yesterday to the Associated Press that “oil has made it into the river. We do not know how much at this point.”
According to state and federal officials yesterday, preliminary tests showed that some oil from the spill had also gotten into the city of Glendive’s public water supply. The Environmental Protection Agency brought in water for the city’s residents while the pollutants are tested to see if they pose a health threat.
“We tested the water and at some taps we detected hydrocarbons,” Paul Peronard, the EPA’s coordinator on the scene, told the Gazette. “We’ve ordered in drinking water that we’re going to make available.”
Peronard also said that locating some of the oil from the spill could be difficult given it is trapped under the layer of ice covering much of the river.
“We really can’t see it, so we’re going to have to hunt and peck through ice to get it out,” he said, noting that, while the exact location of the breach has yet to be determined, “[if] it happened underneath the river, then it’s all in the river.”
This spill comes while legislation on the proposed Keystone XL pipeline makes its way through Congress on its way to President Obama, who has said he will veto the bill while the State Department finishes its analysis of the project.
As ThinkProgress pointed out, the northern segment of the pipeline would be three times the 12-inch diameter of the Bridger pipeline that caused Saturday’s spill, and would “pump more than 34 million gallons per day through the Dakotas down into Nebraska and into the southern leg in Oklahoma and Texas.”