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article imageYellowstone oil spill contaminates town's water supply

By Karen Graham     Jan 20, 2015 in Environment
Glendive - Crude oil from the pipeline breach along the Yellowstone River has seeped into the town of Glendive's drinking water, the Environmental Protection Agency said on Monday evening. The EPA is calling the crude oil spill "significant."
The Jackson Hole News reported that Bridger Pipeline Company spokesman Bill Salvin said on Monday that the company is confident that no more than 1,200 barrels, 50,000 gallons, of crude oil spilled into the river during the hour-long breach.
“Oil has made it into the river,” Salvin said. “We do not know how much.”
The oil has traveled at least 60 miles downstream from the site near Glendive. The EPA's on-scene coordinator, Paul Peronard, said there was an oil sheen seen on the river near Sidney, almost 60 river miles downstream from Glendive. Booms have been placed in areas of the river with open water to try and trap the oil.
Another collection site near Crane has been set up about 30 miles down river from the breach site. “We want to put up a backstop so no free oil can get past this location,” Peronard said Monday. He acknowledged that it will be difficult finding the rest of the oil because it is trapped under ice covering a lot of the river. “We really can’t see it, so we’re going to have to hunt and peck through ice to get it out,” Peronard said.
High levels of hydrocarbons in drinking water
The town of Glendive has a population of 5,300 people and is about 40 miles west of the North Dakota border. Considered the agricultural hub of Eastern Montana, Glendive is five miles down river from the pipeline breach.
“The initial results of samples taken from the City of Glendive’s drinking water system indicate the presence of hydrocarbons at elevated levels, and water intakes in the river have been closed,” the EPA said in a statement.
Glendive City Council member Gerald Reichert was just one of many residents who noticed a strange odor in the water coming out of the kitchen tap. "Suddenly at our house there was a definite smell. It was a diesel smell," Reichert told reporters.
State and federal officials started trucking in water Monday evening, and an advisory is in effect until a plan is in place to flush out the intake system. Montana Governor Steve Bullock toured the spill site on Monday and said he expected Bridger to continue its cleanup efforts "until it's cleaned up to our standards." "The water's a concern," Bullock said. "I expect Bridger to continue and provide all the resources needed."
More about yellowstone river, pipeline breach, town of glendive, Drinking water, Bridger pipeline company
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