Helena --The Unified Command for the Poplar Pipeline spill on the Yellowstone River will transition from emergency response and oil recovery under the Incident Command System to long-term remediation and monitoring this week.
The Environmental Protection Agency will issue its final report and the Montana Department of Environmental Quality will assume the role of lead agency for this phase. Cleanup, monitoring and data collection will continue. The Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation and Fish, Wildlife and Parks will continue to serve in support roles for the State. The EPA will remain available for consultation and assistance as necessary.
The last of the ice in the Yellowstone River melted during the week of March 13. Extensive reconnaissance by boat and air is being conducted from the spill site to the Montana/North Dakota border. Staining and sheen has been noted, but no recoverable oil has been found.
The Oil Pollution Act of 1990 and the National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan authorizes EPA to respond to oil spills and to determine whether a release poses a substantial threat to the public health based on the size and character of the discharge, and its proximity to human populations and sensitive environments. Once it is determined that oil recovery is minimal, EPA no longer has jurisdiction.
Bridger Pipeline, LLC will continue to be responsible for oil recovery and monitoring, with oversight from DEQ. The State will maintain a presence to ensure a smooth transition, and DEQ will have final authority on when the cleanup is complete. DEQ and Bridger Pipeline, LLC will be negotiating penalty and reimbursement in the coming months.
This transition will not affect the citizen claims reimbursement process. While the claims office in Glendive has closed, anyone that believes they have suffered a financial loss because of this spill can call the response hotline 24 hours a day at 866-814-3942. The public is also reminded to call the hotline to report oil, odors or oiled wildlife.
Public Information Officer
Montana DEQ Remediation Division
Bridger Pipeline Public Information Officer
EPA Region 8 Press Officer