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ExxonMobil's Pipeline Problem in Montana

Oil Spill in Yellowstone River

Written by Brianna Panzica
Posted July 5, 2011

ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM) is facing an intensive cleanup job in Montana.

On Friday night, the Silvertip pipeline that stretches from Wyoming to Billings, Montana sprung a leak, releasing an estimated 1,000 barrels of oil, or 42,000 gallons, into the Yellowstone River.

The pipeline was buried beneath the riverbed, but officials speculate that the river waters washed away the dirt covering it to expose part of the pipeline.

Waters in the Yellowstone River have been much higher than average recently, with recent flooding causing the banks to overflow.

It is speculated that the increase in activity in the river may have caused a piece of debris to rupture the pipeline, but there is no certainty as to what happened.

ExxonMobil currently has 200 people working on cleanup along the river, using absorbent pads and 40,000 feet of protective river boom to aid the process.

The flooding, however, has inhibited some of the cleanup and has made it difficult to determine the cause of the leak.

Governor Brian Schweitzer wants a review of all pipelines that cross rivers and other waterways in the state to prevent future problems.

The review would include 88 sections of pipeline.

The Silvertip pipeline was last tested in 2009.

Meanwhile, TransCanada Corp (NYSE: TRP) is looking to construct their Keystone XL pipeline, one that would cross under the Yellowstone River and carry around 830,000 barrels a day to Gulf coast refineries.

Representative James Millar told the Calgary Herald that the Keystone XL line would be thicker and deeper under the riverbed, and it would include anticorrosion and anti-abrasion coating.

TransCanada hopes that they will still be able to go ahead with this venture despite current problems along the Yellowstone River.

The river is home to great trout and bird populations, and wildlife conservation is rushing to assist in the cleanup.

The International Bird Rescue has sent aides to the location.

ExxonMobil has said that harm to wildlife appears to be negligible, but conservationists are still taking care.

Residents are upset about the disaster, watching oil saturate their yards.

Exxon has made it clear that they plan to have a thorough and complete cleanup.

That’s all for now,

Brianna

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