We’ve been keeping close tabs on the clean-up of the Yellowstone oil spill that occurred on July 1 when an Exxon Mobil pipeline burst spilling some 54,000 gallons of crude oil into the scenic river. High and fast waters complicated recovery efforts when the river overflowed, spreading the oil out over the river’s banks. Clean-up crews announced this week that they have discovered oil on 60 percent of the Yellowstone shoreline that’s been inspected. The information, released by the Montana Department of Environmental Quality, offers the first clear glimpse at just how widespread the contamination is.
More than 40 percent of the inspected shoreline was found with light to very light oil, 17 percent had moderate oil, and only one percent had heavy oil. More than 800 crew members are currently patrolling the riverbanks, cleaning up the mess. Oil has been detected as far away as 72 miles from the origin of the spill and Montana Department of Environmental Quality director Richard Opper said that half of the shoreline between Laurel and Lockwood, where most of the damage occurred, has been inspected.
“That is the area of the greatest impact we’re looking at, and so it gives you an idea of the degree of impact we’re seeing,” Opper told Businessweek. “I’m glad it wasn’t worse. But it’s still a huge problem for landowners, both private and public, and we’ll do what we can to address this as efficiently as we can.”
The EPA gave Exxon Mobil an early September deadline to clean up the spill, but that is not a hard date. The agency has said that they will continue working with Exxon for as long as it takes to have the spill completely remediated.
All images © EPA