YELLOWSTONE RIVER OIL SPILL (JANUARY 2015)
HISTORY OF THE SPILL
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. At the time of the discharge, the Yellowstone River and its shoreline were experiencing winter conditions and were covered partially in ice and snow. The resulting crude oil spill entered the Yellowstone River and continues to adversely affect and threaten natural resources within the jurisdictions of the United States and the State of Montana.
Oil sheen was reported at least as far downstream as Crane, Montana (59 river miles downstream from the pipeline crossing). (POLREP #12, USEPA, 2015). Ice on the Yellowstone River prevented cleanup of most of the oil. The oil remained in the river from January 17, 2015 through at least the time that the ice started to break up in mid-March 2015. During some or all of this time period, oil was present in the Yellowstone River throughout the water column. A second phase of the release occurred in mid-March during ice-out (i.e., the time that the ice began to break up during spring thaw). Oil was found on the shoreline through early April 2015. The oil caused exceedances of surface water quality standards contained in Montana’s “Circular DEQ-7 Montana Numeric Water Quality Standards” in the Yellowstone River.