A new oil spill has been discovered in Montana just 350 miles away from where an ExxonMobil pipeline sent tens of thousands of gallons of oil rushing into the Yellowstone River. This new spill, from an FX Energy Inc. pipeline in the Blackfeet Indian Reservation, resulted from a crack in a pipe that shifted during recent flooding. While cleanup crews work to remove crude from the Yellowstone’s pristine environment, the people of Montana are faced with yet another oily mess.
Experts at the new oil spill site believe that the well might have been leaking for as many as two weeks before a nearby landowner reported seeing the break. Because the spill is located on reservation land, the state has no jurisdiction in the cleanup. A cleanup crew has been hired by the reservation and is being paid for by FX Energy Inc. The leak happened on a line between two wells and about 840 gallons of oil are currently spilling down a deep ravine — or coulee — riddled with rattlesnakes and scorpions. The wildlife is making it dangerous for workers while the steep ground has prevented any heavy equipment to be brought in to assist in the cleanup.
“When you first look, you wonder how you’re going to get it out of the coulee,” Gabe Renville, senior environmental scientist for Indian Country Environmental Associates said. “One thing’s for certain, we’ll get it out.” Indian Country Environmental Associates has been tasked with removing the lost oil, of which they believe a small amount might have leaked into the nearby Cut Bank Creek. Since the oil spill was discovered on July 12th, the cleanup crews have built a containment device around the broken pipeline to prevent a larger spill but oil can still be seen on vegetation and in standing pools of water near the break.