YELLOWSTONE RIVER OIL SPILL
The scope of Exxon Mobil Corp.’s oil leak into the Yellowstone River could extend far beyond a 10-mile (16-kilometer) stretch of the famed waterway, the company acknowledged under political pressure Monday.
As the company intensified its cleanup of tens of thousands of gallons (liters) of spilled crude, Exxon Mobil Pipeline Co. President Gary Pruessing pledged to do “whatever is necessary” to find and mop up oil from the 12-inch (30-centimeter) pipeline that broke at the bottom of the river over the weekend.
Alexis Bonogofsky a local goat farmer, was diagnosed Monday at an emergency room with acute hydrocarbon exposure after breathing oil fumes from the spill. Imagine the effect this will have on the local wildlife. The disruption to the smaller organisms in the river that larger fish and birds depend on for their food supply could be devastating.
Even though the spill was small compared to other oil-related disasters, such as the 11 million gallons leaked by the Exxon Valdez in Alaska, it will ultimately effect the pristine nature of the Yellowstone. The turbulent waters form this years snow runoff will complicated their cleanup efforts and attempts at controlling the damage.
It just adds insult to injury that the line was temporarily shut down in May after Laurel officials raised concerns that it could be at risk as the Yellowstone started to rise. And regulators twice in the last year warned Exxon Mobil of several safety violations along the line. Regardless of the merited concerns, the company decided to restart the line after examining its safety record and deciding it was “safe”.
As big oil profits continue to double year after year, it’s the consumer and the environment that is continually raked over the coals. The next time you’re at the pump and you see your hard earned cash spinning away, remember that it’s not only your pocketbook that’s being damaged, but also the health of our fragile ecosystem.