Even though the cleanup remains frozen in time, a Wyoming company is preparing to resume oil shipments through a pipeline that shot 30,000 gallons of crude into Montana’s Yellowstone River.
Cleanup remains on hold near the city of Glendive, where the water supply for 6,000 residents suffered from contamination.
Efforts to remove oil from the Yellowstone River will resume after it’s clear of ice and safe to work on, said a spokesman for Bridger Pipeline LLC, the company responsible for the spill. But the possibility of recovering the oil this long after the spill remain doubtful.
The Casper, WY, company began restarting a 50-mile section of the pipeline that runs south of the spill site to Baker, Montana on Wednesday, spokesman Bill Salvin said.
Workers also have been setting up equipment to drill a new passage for the line deeper beneath the river, under an order from federal regulators.
The line carries oil from the Bakken region of Montana and North Dakota. The damaged section ended up installed back in 1967, in an 8-foot-deep trench dug into the river bottom, according to documents submitted to regulators. Through flooding, scouring of the river bottom by ice or some other force, the line ended up exposed over the past several years and broke open in January.
After Glendive’s water suffered contamination after oil got into a supply intake in the river, workers installed filters to screen out any petroleum products. Problems with the water dissipated since the days after the accident.
It was the second significant oil pipeline spill into the Yellowstone in less than four years, prompting Montana officials including Gov. Steve Bullock and U.S. Sen. Jon Tester to call for more stringent federal oversight of the nation’s aging pipeline network.
The Legislature is considering a measure requiring the state to release to the public information about pipeline depths around the state. The Department of Environmental Quality also would have to publish online details on the commodities transported and the closest shut-off valves to a river.
The bill from Senate Majority Leader Matthew Rosendale, a Glendive Republican, cleared the Senate last month on votes of 50-0 and 48-2.
Ice on the Yellowstone has hampered cleanup efforts from day one, and only about 10 percent of the oil released into the river ended up recovered. Two workers have been monitoring the river downstream of the spill for evidence of oil, Salvin said. It’s been several weeks since significant cleanup work has occurred.