ExxonMobil Expects Montana Spill To Cost $135 Million

December 2011, Vol. 238 No. 12

ExxonMobil said last month it expects its response to the July oil spill into the Yellowstone River in Montana will cost about $135 million. ExxonMobil said it has reached compensation agreements with more than 95% of property owners affected by the spill, which released about 1,000 barrels of crude oil into the river.

The leak occurred July 1 on the Silvertip pipeline, in a section that ran under the Yellowstone River and carried crude oil to refineries in Billings. Raging high water from a season of heavy rains and record snowmelt appear to have played a role in causing the pipeline break, but a definitive cause has not been found, Richard Opper, director of the Montana Department of Environmental Quality, told Reuters.

ExxonMobil said that more than 1,000 workers, including employees of the hazardous waste management company Clean Harbors, helped in response and cleanup efforts to deal with the spill.

"Exxon, all in all, has been pretty responsive," Opper said. "There were some hiccups with some of the landowners. But cleanup is a very complex process with many moving parts."