Jul 2, 2011 11:20 AM by Q2 News
UPDATE: 11:10 a.m. - An Exxon oil pipeline running underneath the Yellowstone River near Laurel ruptured late last night and sent an undetermined amount of oil down river. The oil leak prompted the evacuation of several residents along the river. The rupture occured in a 12 inch line near the boat ramp at RIverside Park near Laurel. Oil has been washing along shore from Laurel to Pompeys Pillar and the fast moving river will continue to push the sheen to the east. Exxon spokesperson Pam Malek said the company regrets the crude release and apologizes to the neighbors in the area affected. Exxon has a local spill contain team on site and will bring in a global response team from their Houston office later today. There is no estimate on how much oil has spilled into the Yellowstone. Exxon has set up a toll free number for people to call with questions. The number is 1-888-382-0043. Yellowstone County Disaster and Emergency Services Coordinator Duane Winslow said the rupture was reported around 11:30pm Friday night. They contacted all of the companies who would have pipelines running across the river at that location to get the lines shut down. The ruptured pipeline was shut down within a half an hour. Winslow says drinking water is safe. Initially the City of Billings shut down the water intake but it has since been opened. Agencies will continue to monitor water samples. Several residents have called in to complain about a strong odor along the river. Deb Hendrick of Riverstone Health says they will be available to answer health questions today at 247-3200. The spill will involve local, state, and federal government officials. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will send a team from Denver today.
Photo from Rory Rogina