Monday, March 30, 2015

Oil Spill in Yellowstone River

  This past January a pipeline burst that runs under the Yellowstone River in Glendive, Montana. About 50,000 gallons of oil spilled into the river, affecting over 6,000 people’s water supplies. There is still no definite answer about what caused the pipeline to burst, but it is not much of a surprise to many since the pipeline is 50 years old and lies only eight feet beneath the river bed.  The Bridger Pipeline Company shut down the line after the leak was detected, but the oil still managed to flow 60 miles downstream.  Many restaurants and businesses had to shut down due to the quality of the water and some parents even kept their kids home from school.  Although Glendive was highly impacted by this spill, many locals are very supportive of the oil industry because it provides a lot of jobs and incoming money.  A big issue is that this is the second time in five years that oil has spilled into the Yellowstone River.  These types of incidents are what cause a lot of hesitation about the Keystone XL pipeline.

Two months after the spill, the Bridger Pipeline Company is preparing to resume shipments.  This raises a lot of concern considering only about 10% of the spilled oil has been recovered.  Federal regulators are declaring that the replacement section of this pipeline is installed 40 feet below the river bed to avoid incidents like this in the future.  While I understand that the pipeline company has to resume use of the pipeline at some point, I think their recovery efforts were not up to par.  Making money is obviously the company’s priority, so I’m sure they did whatever they needed to do in order to resume shipment as soon as possible.  Even with that in mind, they are the ones who own that pipeline so they should be responsible for doing as much oil recovery as possible.  The article mentioned that filters were used to remove petroleum products from the water, but the impeding ice made recovery efforts difficult.  I agree with the decision that was made to rebuild the pipeline much further below the river bed, but I think these types of decisions should be made before incidents like this occur.
--Sarah Smith

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