US EPA - Environmental Protection Agency

EPA update on yellowstone river oil spill (Silvertip Pipeline), July 13, 2011


Billings, Mont -- At approximately 11:00 PM on Friday, July 1 a break occurred in a 12-inch pipeline owned by ExxonMobil that resulted in a spill of crude oil into the Yellowstone River approximately 20 miles upstream of Billings, Montana. The current estimate of the amount of oil released remains at 1,000 barrels based on information provided by ExxonMobil. EPA's primary concern is protecting people's health and the environment. EPA will remain on-site to ensure cleanup and restoration efforts do just that. EPA continues to hold ExxonMobil, the responsible party, accountable for assessment and cleanup.

Shoreline Cleanup & Assessment Technique (SCAT) teams are continuing to carefully assess and clean up the most heavily affected areas of the spill and are combing the riverbanks again today. SCAT teams will increase from 4 to 6 over the next few days. A Rapid Deployment SCAT team that EPA and MDEQ directed ExxonMobil to develop will be added as well to quickly address new sightings of removable oil and to delineate downstream shoreline impacts.

“As I stated yesterday, increased access means increased progress and we’re increasing the SCAT teams from four to six,” said Steve Merritt, EPA On-Scene Coordinator. “Including the Rapid Deployment team, that gives us seven teams to survey and confirm the extent and severity of shoreline oiling.”

Soil and sediment sampling continues, and cleanup activities will carry on as the samples are collected. Soil and sediment samples are used to determine locations where oil was transported and what compounds are present in the environment. This, in turn, will greatly assist with ongoing assessments and cleanup efforts.

There are 680 personnel on site with 460 currently in the field engaged in cleanup or sampling activities. Cleanup crews have used 43,000 linear feet of materials such as absorbent booms and sweeps, and 260,000 absorbent pads. There are 46 boats on scene as well. Declining floodwaters have given cleanup crews, SCAT teams, sampling teams, and scientists increased access to locations previously inaccessible.

EPA will hold a community meeting at the Laurel High School tonight, July 13th at 6:30 p.m. The high school is located at 203 East 8th Street in Laurel.

Tomorrow’s media availability session will be at 11 a.m. at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, 27 North 27th St in Billings. The Montana DEQ encourages people to call the Governor’s information line at 406-657-0231 with questions, concerns or comments, or visit

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