A pipeline burst under the Yellowstone River on Saturday, resulting in a massive oil spill of over 50,000 gallons into the river and making residents extremely concerned about the proposed Keystone pipeline that is set to cross the river in the same city — Glendive, Montana.
This is not the first oil spill on-shore in the U.S. A staggering 1.1 million gallons were spilled into the Kalamazoo River in Michigan, when an Enbridge pipeline burst.
Frighteningly, this isn’t even the first oil spill in the Yellowstone River. A July of 2011 oil spill dumped 63,000 gallons of oil into the river when an Exxon Mobile pipeline ruptured. The company that owns the pipeline responsible for the most recent oil spill had another oil spill of over 5,000 gallons in North Dakota last year, resulting in several citations being lodged against the company.
The Kalamazoo River oil spill occurred four and a half years ago and is still not completely cleaned up. The first Yellowstone oil spill was from a 12 inch pipeline that was caught and sealed off in less than an hour. The cleanup still took nearly a year and cost $135 million dollars. The oil spill polluted cropland, dozens of miles of coastline, and prompted an evacuation of local residents because of an explosion risk. The oil spill was the result of local flooding.
This most recent oil spill was from another twelve inch pipeline that was running underneath the river. The cause and environmental fallout are unknown at this point. Residents were cautioned not to drink the water, as the river was slicked with oil for miles. Tap water in the area had the odor of diesel, and contained two to three times the amount of benzene allowed by the CDC. Grocery stores were sold out of bottled water. Residents struggled to find clean sources of water to take their medications, shower, do their laundry, and to drink. Relief in the form of bottled water didn’t arrive until Tuesday morning. Businesses, schools, and hospitals were heavily impacted, some had to close due to lack of safe water. The impact stretches far further in this ranching and farming community.
Montana’s governor declared a state of emergency in Dawson and Richland counties, the two most heavily impacted. The oil boom has people and companies rushing to cash in, often at the expense of small towns and communities such as Glendive. While politicians, and people, far removed from impacted areas argue for passage of legislation that will allow for the Keystone XL Pipeline, as reported by the Inquisitr, residents of areas that might end up bearing the brunt of catastrophes such as these oil spills continue to protest, potentially with good cause.