Yellowstone River Oil Spill 2015

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On January, 17th, 2015, an oil spill occurred on the Yellowstone River near Glendive, Montana. The spill originated from Bridger Pipeline’s Poplar Pipeline system located about 9 river miles upstream of the City of Glendive.

At approximately 10:30 am on Saturday, workers at the pipeline’s control room shut down the pipeline after detecting a pressure drop in the system. Later that day, an aerial patrol plane confirmed a sheen on the Yellowstone River in open water approximately three fourths-mile to 25 miles downstream (north) of Glendive.

According to Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), as much as 1200 barrels (50,000 gallons) of crude oil may have been released. The pipeline contained primarily Bakken Crude oil at the time of the release.

Following the spill, initial water samples taken from the Glendive Municipal Water Treatment Plant sample indicated an elevated level of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), predominantly benzene.

On January 18th, Montana’s Governor Steve Bullock signed an executive order declaring a state of emergency in the area.

On January 21, MT FWP issued a press release calling for a fish consumption advisory for the Yellowstone River between the spill site just upstream from Glendive and the North Dakota state line.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks (MT FWP) conducted a survey of the endangered pallid sturgeon in the Yellowstone River downstream of the spill site.

Extending more than 600 miles, the Yellowstone River is the longest free-flowing river In the lower 48 states. The Yellowstone rises in the mountains of Wyoming and flows for about 100 miles through Yellowstone National Park, Yellowstone Lake, and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. It then flows through Montana before emptying into the Missouri River near the Missouri-North Dakota border.

The Yellowstone River contains a variety of native and introduced fish species, including Yellowstone cutthroat trout, paddlefish, channel catfish, sauger, walleye, burbot, steelhead rainbow trout, brown trout, brook trout, northern pike, smallmouth bass, rock bass, pumpkinseed, and crappie.

sources: Montana Department of Environmental Quality, Environmental Protection Agency

Related Information

Environmental Protection Agency Region 8

Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks Fish Consumption Advisory

Montana Department of Environmental Quality

Yellowstone River Oil Spill 2011