On January 17, 2015, a pipeline owned by Bridger Pipeline LLC released crude oil into the ice-covered Yellowstone River, approximately seven miles upstream of Glendive. The release is estimated to be between 12,600 – 50,400 gallons of oil (300 – 1200 barrels) consisting primarily of Bakken Crude. Oil and sheen have been observed at least 73 miles downstream of the spill site, at Sidney. NRDP is preliminarily evaluating the extent of its involvement and coordinating with USFWS, EPA and DEQ during this stage of response.
The State of Montana and United States Intend to Seek Natural Resource Damages for the January 2015 Bridger Pipeline, LLC, Yellowstone River Oil Spill
Governor Steve Bullock, Attorney General Tim Fox, and the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) announced the decision to actively pursue recovery of natural resource damages for the 2015 Bridger Pipeline, LLC, Yellowstone River Oil Spill. This decision is set forth in the “Notice of Intent to Conduct Restoration Planning – January 2015, Yellowstone River Oil Spill” (NOI). The Governor of the State of Montana and DOI are the trustees for natural resources injured by the 2015 Yellowstone River Oil Spill. The Governor is represented by the Montana Natural Resource Damage Program, an entity within the Montana Department of Justice. The trustees have determined that Bridger Pipeline, LLC is the statutorily responsible party for payment of the natural resource damages resulting from the oil spill. The NOI is available from the State and Federal trustee contacts and internet sites specified below.
On January 17, 2015, the Poplar Pipeline, which is owned and operated by Bridger Pipeline, LLC, of Casper, Wyoming, discharged at least 30,000 gallons of Bakken crude oil into the Yellowstone River just upstream of Glendive, Montana. Bridger performed a limited emergency cleanup with EPA and Montana Department of Environmental Quality oversight.
Based upon a preliminary investigation, the State and DOI have determined that the oil may have caused injuries to natural resources, including fish (including the federally listed endangered pallid sturgeon) and other aquatic organisms, birds (including migratory birds), wildlife, surface water and riverine aquatic habitat and supported biota, terrestrial habitat, shoreline habitat and supported biota adjacent to the river, and the services provided by these natural resources.
The trustees will begin to more specifically assess and quantify the injuries to these resources and lost uses, and evaluate restoration alternatives. Following the assessment, the trustees will prepare a restoration plan, which will be subject to public comment.
The Trustees sent a Partial Claim for Past and Future Assessment Costs (Partial Claim) to Bridger on March 16, 2017 for: (1) past and future assessment costs related to the restoration planning phase; (2) a model-based assessment procedure related to bird injury; and (3) a laboratory-based assessment procedure related to fish injury. The Trustees provided Bridger 90 days to consider the Partial Claim and Bridger declined to make payment on June 14, 2017. The Trustees will be presenting the Partial Claim to the U.S. Coast Guard National Pollution Fund Center (NPFC) for funding.
For More Information Contact: Ryan Moehring, USFWS, Lakewood, CO, (303) 236-0345 or Beau Downing or Harley Harris, NRDP/MDOJ, Helena, (406) 444-0205