Monday, January 19, 2015

Cleanup begins on Yellowstone River for oil leak near Glendive

Cleanup efforts have begun on the Yellowstone River downstream from where an oil leak was reported over the weekend.

According to Paul Peronard, the on-scene coordinator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, crews are using two techniques to cleanup the estimated 50,000 gallons of oil that leaked into the river from the Bridger Pipeline company's Poplar pipeline system on Saturday.

The crews are using a traditional boom, which doesn't work well in the swift water conditions, so it is being backed up by secondary capture point near Crane, which is located between Savage and Sidney about 30 miles away from the spill site.

At the secondary location crews are using what is called an ice slotting technique in which cut holes in the ice and then capture the oil using a boom that is lowered through the ice.

Finding a location where the ice was thick enough was difficult because of the condition of the ice needing to be combined with a location to get trucks and pumping equipment to the river.

Should the oil reach Sidney, there is no water intake in Sidney on the Yellowstone River.

There is a water intake for Savage on the Yellowstone River, and crews have placed a preventative boom there and are making preventative arrangements around the Intake Diversion Dam.

The Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks has joined the emergency response team. Both Pallid Sturgeon, which are endangered, and Paddlefish are in the area.

Crews are attempting to keep oil from getting to the confluence of the Yellowstone and Missouri rivers where both of the fish species spawn.

Meanwhile, authorities said residents in the Glendive area who have smelled petroleum in their water need to call 406-377-3318 ext 16. The number connects to a city office, but they are taking information off an answering machine because the office is closed.

Callers will need to leave their name, number, and the address of where the smell was detected.

Officials are mapping out where the smells are reported.

As of 11:30 a.m. Monday, authorities said they still believe there is not a problem in the water distribution system. They have flown samples out of the water treatment plant in Glendive to a lab in Billings to be tested.


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