Oil fouls Yellowstone River

ExxonMobil pipeline break dumps 40,000 gallons of oil

Gov. Brian Schweitzer of Montana has requested a safety inspection of all pipelines crossing the state and a review of emergency-response plans, after oil from a ruptured ExxonMobil pipeline leaked into the Yellowstone River, which runs past the houses of approximately 6,500 people, according to media reports.

The pipe broke July 1 and was not shut down for nearly an hour, causing more than 42,000 gallons of oil to spill into the river and spread at least 15 miles. ExxonMobil has been accused of downplaying the incident by initially reporting that the shut-off occurred 30 minutes after the rupture.

It is still unknown whether extreme flooding in the area caused the break, but the U.S. Department of Transportation—the federal agency that oversees pipeline safety—had sent the oil company a letter last summer asking it to take precautions against corrosion, and to update its emergency plan. The company received a second warning in February of this year and, in March, claimed it had dealt with those concerns.