Posted: 14 Feb, 2017

A pipeline oil spill from January 2015 that spilled 31,000 gallons of oil into the Yellowstone River and contaminated Glendive’s water supply in Montana, US. The Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) announced the civil penalty last week against Bridger Pipeline LLC.

The penalty will be paid in part to the state’s general fund (200,000 USD), and a minimum of 800,000 USD will be paid to “supplemental environment projects” with the aim of reducing pollution, benefitting public health, and repairing the environment per a statement issued by the DEQ.

The incident from last year began when a pipeline split at a weld, and oil began spilling into the Yellowstone river, upstream from Glendive. The residents of Glendive began reporting a bad taste and smell from drinking water, and the community switched to bottled sources. After testing of the water benzene (a carcinogen) was detected at three times the limit for long-term exposure risk, and oil was detected in fish caught near the leak site.

Less than 10% of the oil from this leak was recovered, in part due to ice covering the river making containment difficult. Much of the oil travelled downstream under the ice, with oil sheens reported as far away as Williston, North Dakota.