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EPA update on Yellowstone River oil spill (Silvertip Pipeline), July 19, 2011

Release Date: 07/19/2011
Contact Information: Lisa McClain-Vanderpool, (303) 501-4027, (; Wendy Thomi, (406) 351-9014

Billings, Mont --, July 19, 2011) The river levels continue to drop, giving our assessment and cleanup crews more access to vegetation and shoreline. The crews have assessed approximately 47 river miles of shoreline. We are finding numerous, heavily oiled flood debris piles at various locations along the shoreline and on the islands. Since no two piles are alike, the Unified Command is investigating a variety of options to use for cleaning up these piles. In some cases, it may be necessary to use equipment to remove heavy debris. In other instances, especially on the more sensitive and less easily accessed islands, oiled debris could be covered with a fixative like sand or sawdust, which eliminates the stickiness of the oil and provides a buffer for wildlife. In evaluating clean up techniques, we are carefully considering wildlife and habitat to ensure our remedies do not cause more harm than good.

ExxonMobil has submitted their revised workplan to EPA. We and our federal and state partners will conduct a timely review and will finalize the workplan carefully and promptly. All cleanup activities are continuing under the direction of the Unified Command.

PLEASE NOTE: Our daily media briefings continue this week via conference call only, at 3:00pm MDT. For conference call dial-in information, please contact Lisa McClain-Vanderpool listed above. We will continue to post the latest information including monitoring data and progress on clean-up and restoration as it becomes available on our website,

BACKGROUND: At approximately 11:00 PM on Friday, July 1 a break occurred in a 12-inch pipeline owned by ExxonMobil Pipeline Co. 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 Pipeline Co. 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 Pipeline Co., the responsible party, accountable for assessment and cleanup.

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The Montana DEQ encourages people to call the Governor’s information line at 406-657-0231 with questions or stop into the Governor’s Billings office at 424 Morey Street or visit