Yellowstone River Spill
Note: EPA no longer updates this information, but it may be useful as a reference or resource.
At approximately 11 p.m. Friday, July 1, 2011, a break occurred in a 12-inch pipeline under the Yellowstone River 20 miles upstream from Billings, Montana. The ruptured pipeline is owned by ExxonMobil Pipeline Company. According to the company, an estimated 1,000 barrels of oil entered the river before the pipeline was closed. EPA is leading the response in close coordination with the state of Montana and other federal agencies. EPAs primary concern is protecting peoples health and the environment and will remain on-site to ensure cleanup and restoration efforts do just that. EPA continues to hold ExxonMobil, the responsible party, accountable for assessment and cleanup.
This website provides current information on the status of the response. Check the links on the right sidebar for updates.
On this page:
- Notice of Filing: Administrative Order
- Final Work Plan
- Odors from the Yellowstone River Spill
- EPA Update
July 7, 2011: EXXONMOBIL SILVERTIP PIPELINE SPILL (CWA-08-2011-0020) (PDF, 6 pp, 652K). From the Order: "This Order requires performance of removal actions in connection with a facility located at or near the Silvertip Pipeline System Mile Posts 20.7 and 21.0 in the vicinity of the City of Laurel, Montana."
Final Work Plan
The files below are Adobe PDF files (about PDF)
Comprehensive Sampling and Analysis Plan (PDF, 146 pp, 12 MB)
Downstream Impacted Areas Remediation Plan (PDF, 40 pp, 5.3 MB)
Oil Containment and Recovery Plan (PDF, 86 pp, 5.9 MB)
Quality Assurance Project Plan for Comprehensive Sampling and Analysis Plan (PDF, 834 pp, 15 MB)
Source Release Area Remediation Plan (PDF, 12 pp, 590K)
Odors from the Yellowstone River Spill
Some people have noticed a strong odor near the area where the pipeline ruptured and along the river and backwaters impacted by the spill. We would expect that these odors would decrease as more of the spilled oil is recovered. If you are smelling a "gas-station-like" odor, you may be smelling volatile organic compounds, or VOCs. The VOCs in oils are benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene.
It is important to understand that people are able to smell some VOCs and other oil-related chemicals at levels much lower than would cause long-term health problems. Some of the chemicals that cause odors may cause headaches, dizziness, nausea or vomiting. If you are sensitive to these chemicals, stay indoors. If possible, close windows and doors, turn your air conditioner on and set it to a recirculation mode. If you have severe nausea or other medical issues, please see your health care provider as soon as possible.
EPA Update on Yellowstone River Oil Spill (Silvertip Pipeline),
August 12, 2011
Matthew Allen, (720) 237-7414; Libby Faulk, (303) 548-3967; John Dalton (303) 524-2459
(Billings, Mont --, August 12, 2011) EPA continues to oversee the response to the ExxonMobil Silvertip Pipeline Spill on the Yellowstone River near Billings, Mont. EPA will take whatever steps are necessary to ensure ExxonMobil Pipeline Company addresses any and all potential impacts of this spill. EPA will continue to direct and oversee the cleanup and restoration of the Yellowstone River and will continue to work to ensure people's health and the environment are protected.
There are over 1,000 personnel engaged in cleanup and shoreline assessment efforts. Shoreline Cleanup Assessment Technique (SCAT) teams have assessed more than 6,500 acres. Several segments are ready for review and sign off and are on the schedule to be inspected by SCAT teams once their initial assessments are completed.
Right now were progressing through the work plan, and SCAT teams have made a lot of progress, said Craig Myers, EPA On-Scene Coordinator. At this point things appear to be happening on schedule.
EPA sampling results for air, water, soil, and sediment data are still
available on the EPA spill website. The data shows there are no levels
of concern in the water and no elevated levels above instrument detection
for volatile organic compounds. EPA site-specific soil sampling result
letters went out to 40 landowners affected by the Yellowstone River
oil spill. Results and a fact sheet on the crude oil samples and an
Agricultural Fact Sheet are available at the EPA website as well.
BACKGROUND: At approximately 11 p.m. on Friday, July 1 a break occurred in a 12-inch pipeline owned by ExxonMobil that resulted in a spill of crude oil into the Yellowstone River approximately 20 miles upstream of Billings, Montana. EPA's primary concern is protecting people's health and the environment. EPA will remain on-site to ensure cleanup and restoration efforts do just that. EPA continues to hold ExxonMobil, the responsible party, accountable for assessment and cleanup.
Press inquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please visit www.epa.gov/yellowstoneriverspill/ for the latest information, data and maps.
The Montana DEQ encourages people to call the Governor’s information line at 406-657-0231 with questions, concerns or comments, or visit www.yellowstoneriveroilspill.mt.gov.
Public questions: 303‑312‑6015, 8 a.m.–4 p.m. MT weekdays.
Exxon Claims Questions:
ExxonMobil Community Outreach:
2345 King Avenue West, Suite B
Billings, MT 59102
Monday - Friday 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Hotline:
To report a spill: National Response Center (NRC), 800‑424-8802