The Sunday News
LAUREL, Mont. — Exxon Mobil Corp. said Wednesday that it plans to use vacuum trucks to suck any remaining oil from a failed pipeline near Laurel that spilled an estimated 42,000 gallons of crude into the Yellowstone River.
Geoff Craft, the company’s incident commander on the spill, said the use of the vacuum trucks should prevent any more oil from polluting the scenic waterway.
It is not known how much oil is left in the 1,600-foot section of 12-inch pipeline that runs beneath the river. Draining that piece of the company’s Silvertip pipeline could begin by this weekend and take several days to complete, said Tom Livers, deputy director of the Montana Department of Environmental Quality.
The cause of the July 1 pipeline failure remains under investigation.
Hundreds of cleanup workers continue mopping up oil spread over dozens of miles downstream from the spill, and a congressional hearing on the accident is scheduled for Thursday in Washington, D.C.
About 100 people attended a community meeting on the spill Wednesday night in Laurel that was hosted by the Environmental Protection Agency.
Landowners along the river said they were unsure what steps to take with damaged pastureland, but there were fewer complaints about Exxon Mobil’s response to the spill than a similar meeting last week.
“No complaints, just questions,” said Jerry Hanson of Billings, who has been unable to graze his eight llamas on land he owns along the Yellowstone.
“I’ve heard I should not be cultivating that land for two years,” Hanson said. “No cleanup has started yet. What I’m concerned about is I’ve got 8 acres of pasture grass covered in some amount of oil. How much is too much? I have no idea.”