Oil spill concerns Montana officials

State emergency crews, EPA, scramble to contain Yellowstone River pollution

BILLINGS, MT (UPI) | July 3, 2011

Environmental officials Sunday scrambled to contain as many as 42,000 gallons of oil leaked into the fast-flowing Yellowstone River in Montana.

State emergency crews were joined early Sunday by officials from the federal Environmental Protection Agency to begin operations to capture the oil, which began leaking from a pipeline around 11:30 p.m. Friday, KTVQ-TV, Billings, Mont., reported.

The ExxonMobil Pipeline Co. said in a statement as many as 1,000 barrels of unrefined crude oil leaked into the Yellowstone.

The river is still swollen from spring thaw flooding and flowing fast, the report said.

Oil company spokesman Tim Thennis told the broadcaster Saturday night it wasn't known how the leak started, but the source pipe had been turned off.

He said cleaning the river's shore was relatively simple, but the sludge in the moving water was a bigger problem. State officials said they hoped to contain the oil before it reached the larger Missouri River, the report said.

In just 12 hours, the oil had traveled about 100 miles east from the town of Laurel to Hysham, officials said.

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