Public Comment Sought on Legal Order for 2015 Oil Spill in Yellowstone River -

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Public Comment Sought on Legal Order for 2015 Oil Spill in Yellowstone River

Tuesday, December 20, 2016/Categories: Department of Environmental Quality/Tags:

HELENA – The Montana Department of Environmental Quality is asking for public comment on a proposed Administrative Order on Consent with Bridger Pipeline LLC for payment of penalties and costs to resolve the company’s January 2015, release of crude oil to the Yellowstone River near Glendive, Mont. The 30-day public comment period on the Consent Order ends Monday, Jan. 23, 2017 at midnight.


Under the Consent Order, Bridger agrees to pay a $1 million civil penalty that will be mitigated by a $200,000 payment to the State’s general fund and by spending at least $800,000 on DEQ-approved supplemental environmental projects. SEPs are projects that are above and beyond what is normally required and are designed to reduce pollution, benefit public health, and/or restore and protect the environment. 


“The spill impacted the City of Glendive, its drinking water supply and the many people that live there,” said DEQ Director Tom Livers. “It’s important we get public input on the proposed Order, especially from those in the community.”


Bridger has completed all cleanup, monitoring and reclamation work required by DEQ and continues to pay DEQ’s limited costs for managing the site. The company has already paid $80,353.85 of the State’s past costs for overseeing the spill response. 


The Consent Order remains in effect until DEQ determines Bridger has fully completed the SEPs and any other outstanding requirements. 


DEQ has determined that the spill no longer poses an immediate risk to human health or the environment.


The 30-day public comment period starts Dec. 20, 2016 and ends Jan. 23, 2017. Written comments must be received by 11:59 p.m. on Jan. 23 and can be sent to Laura Alvey, DEQ Waste Management and Remediation Division, PO Box 200901, Helena, MT 59620-0901, or electronically to: The Consent Order is available on DEQ’s website at:




On Jan. 17, 2015, an estimated 758 barrels, or 31,800 gallons, of crude oil spilled into the Yellowstone River when Bridger’s Poplar Pipeline broke six miles upstream of Glendive. The City of Glendive gets its drinking water from the Yellowstone River, and dissolved crude oil contaminated the Glendive public water supply. DEQ issued a Health Advisory from Jan. 20 through Jan. 23 and during this time Bridger supplied free bottled water to the community.


The Yellowstone was covered from bank to bank with ice when the spill happened. Some of the oil was trapped in the ice at the release site, but much of the oil probably traveled downstream under the ice, broke down and diluted. In mid-March 2015, the river ice broke up and some oiled ice chunks hung up on the river banks. Melting released oil into the river and deposited oil on the river bank in some locations. The most heavily oiled area was located immediately downstream of the I-94 bridge on the north side of Glendive. Bridger mopped up oil in this area with absorbent materials and later conducted confirmation sampling to verify that cleanup met DEQ cleanup levels. 


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