Major oil pipeline spill fouls Montana’s Yellowstone River

January 20, 2015

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(Bozeman, MT) – For the second time in four years, an oil pipeline has spilled tens of thousands of gallons of oil into the Yellowstone River in eastern Montana, contaminating water supplies for local residents and harming valuable fish and wildlife habitat on the longest free-flowing river in the lower 48 states.

The most recent spill occurred on January 17 about five miles upriver of Glendive, Montana. The pipeline owner, Bridger Pipeline Company, initially estimated that up to 50,000 gallons of oil made its way into the Yellowstone River.

Scott Bosse, American Rivers’ Northern Rockies Director based in Bozeman, made the following statement:

“As a longtime Montanan, I am saddened and angered that another pipeline has leaked tens of thousands of gallons of oil into the Yellowstone River, contaminating water supplies for local residents and harming fish and wildlife. This is the second major pipeline spill in the Yellowstone River in the past four years, despite the fact that Congress passed new pipeline safety legislation after the last spill occurred near Laurel, Montana in July 2011. Similar to the last spill, it will be impossible to clean up more than a fraction of a percent of the oil that entered the river last Saturday given that the oil is underneath the ice or it has moved downriver.”

“This second major pipeline spill in the Yellowstone River in just four years raises our concern about building the Keystone XL pipeline, which would cross both the Yellowstone and Missouri rivers in Montana, and a total of 1,904 rivers, streams, and reservoirs along its route across Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska. This latest incident should serve as a stark reminder that there is no completely safe way to transport oil over long distances, and we must demand the highest level of environmental standards for any oil pipelines that cross our nation’s rivers.”

Scott Bosse is the Northern Rockies Director for American Rivers based in Bozeman, Montana. He gained firsthand experience dealing with oil spills while working on a cleanup crew following the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska’s Prince William Sound in 1989. Following the July 2011 pipeline spill in the Yellowstone River, Scott worked with Montana U.S. Senator Max Baucus on new pipeline safety legislation that was signed into law in December 2011.


About American Rivers

American Rivers protects wild rivers, restores damaged rivers, and conserves clean water for people and nature. Since 1973, American Rivers has protected and restored more than 150,000 miles of rivers through advocacy efforts, on-the-ground projects, and an annual America’s Most Endangered Rivers® campaign. Headquartered in Washington, DC, American Rivers has offices across the country and more than 250,000 members, supporters, and volunteers.

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