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Montana Authorities Propose Settlement in Montana Pipeline Spill

 

Montana authorities have put together a settlement that would have ExxonMobil pay out $1.6 million in connection with the breach in the company’s pipeline that dumped 1,500 barrels of oil into the Yellowstone River last summer, according to Upstreamonline.com.

The Montana Department of Environmental Quality is opening a period for public comment through 21 February on the proposal, which also includes $760,000 in reimbursements for state cleanup.

"Many landowners along the river were severely affected by the spill, so it’s important to get public input on the proposed order and the work still to be done by ExxonMobil," DEQ Director Richard Opper said in a statement.

The scope of the agreement includes past and future cleanup services, as well as environmental monitoring.

The company originally put the size of the spill at 1,000 barrels of crude but has since revised the volume of oil released into the river at 1,500 barrels, Montana environmental officials told Reuters.

Exxon's Silvertip pipeline burst on July 1 at a crossing beneath the flood-swollen Yellowstone River near Billings, Montana, about 150 miles downstream from Yellowstone National Park.

The deal represents only part of Exxon's liability stemming from the pipeline rupture, Montana Department of Environmental Quality Director Richard Opper told the news wire.

Exxon in November estimated its overall response to the spill, including cleanup, would cost $135 million and said it had reached compensation agreements with more than 95% of riverside property owners affected by the accident.

In addition, Exxon must still settle with the state for any damages assessed by the Montana attorney general under the state's natural resource laws, Opper said.

The cause of the accident, which occurred amid historically high water levels on the pristine river, remains under investigation by the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.

Exxon told the wire in a statement Thursday that it regretted the incident and took full responsibility for the cleanup.

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