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NEWS RELEASE · 4th July 2011
An oil pipeline that spewed tens of thousands of gallons of crude oil into Montana's Yellowstone River was temporarily shut down in May because of concerns over rising waters, and regulators twice in the last year warned Exxon Mobil of several safety violations along the line.

Exxon Mobil officials estimated that up to 1,000 barrels, or 42,000 gallons, spilled late Friday night before the flow from the damaged pipeline was stopped. The break near Laurel has fouled miles of riverbank and forced municipalities and irrigation districts to close intakes across eastern Montana.

By early Monday the company had received 70 calls into a hotline set up for property owners suffering from the spill, although spokesman Alan Jeffers said not all of those were reports of oil.

Jeffers said 125 workers were on the ground Monday cleaning up scattered sections of riverbank that received crude. But he added that there was no longer a defined slick of oil moving down the river and the impacts were unlikely to grow.

"It's unlikely there's any oil in the water at this point," Jeffers said. "That doesn't mean we know where it all is."

Officials in Yellowstone County were working with the company to connect cleanup personnel with affected property owner, Commissioner John Ostlund said.

Montana's Disaster and Emergency Services Division was unable early Monday to give an update on the spill, including whether the oil had in fact dissipated. Environmental Protection Agency officials also could not immediately provide any new information.

The 12-inch pipeline, which delivered about 40,000 barrels of crude today to a refinery in Billings, was shut down in May because of concerns over rising waters following heavy rains in Eastern Montana , Exxon Mobil Pipeline Co. president Gary Pruessing said Sunday.

The company decided to restart the line after examining its safety record and deciding the risk was low, he said.

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