Glendive residents OK to drink water: Some homes near oil spill report dark ooze …

25 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

After oil spill, company says new line will be safer.

A Montana town’s water supply, contaminated by oil from a breached pipeline over the weekend, became safe for drinking again Friday, state officials said, after tests showed a drop in concentrations of a cancer-causing petrochemical. “The Water Treatment Plant is providing clean water,” reads a notice on the city of Glendive’s website. “Confirmation sampling of the distribution lines shows that the water meets federal drinking water standards. Exxon Mobil is reviewing a fine that was levied by federal regulators for a 2011 pipeline break under the Yellowstone River, a company spokesman said Saturday.BILLINGS, Mont. – Federal officials have issued a $1 million penalty against Exxon Mobil Corp. for safety violations stemming from a pipeline rupture in 2011 that spilled 63,000 gallons of crude into Montana’s Yellowstone River.A Wyoming company said Friday it will replace a pipeline that spilled almost 40,000 gallons of oil into a river in Montana with a new line buried more deeply to protect against future accidents.

The site of the pipeline break, six miles upstream from the high-plains city of Glendive, Montana, is almost entirely capped in ice, complicating efforts to retrieve the oil and slowing the response process. The Bridger website has a mission statement that reads: “We place the utmost importance on the well-being of our employees, the environment, and the communities in which we do business, going above and beyond the measures necessary to ensure their continued safety and health.” If that is true, then we can assume that any other pipeline company cannot be as safe and that therefore the Enbridge Sandpiper pipeline that proposes to go through critical water habitat in Minnesota would spell environmental disaster.

Drinking water to some 6,000 people in and around Glendive was found earlier this week by the EPA to contain benzene, an organic compound in oil and gas, at levels above what is deemed acceptable by the U.S. The Department of Transportation order would make that improvement mandatory and require identical action where the line runs beneath the Poplar River in northeast Montana. The conditions are changing quickly, sometimes by the hour, making it hard to for workers to plan the recovery, Bill Salvin, a spokesman for Bridger Pipeline, the Wyoming-based company which owns the pipeline, told the Guardian on Saturday. “We still obviously have a very serious issue here,” he said. “We’ve had very limited success because of the conditions. The Poplar Pipeline will stay shut down from Glendive to near the Canada border until the damaged section is replaced, said Bill Salvin, spokesman for owner Bridger Pipeline LLC. It is extremely challenging and there are significant safety hazards for having people working on the ice.” Salvin said crews had only been able to recover a small fraction of the oil that spilled into the Yellowstone.

State Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, is arguing that Minnesota needs more school counselors to help high school students do a better job picking a career. The 340-mile line delivers crude from the Bakken oil patch of North Dakota and Montana to a terminal in Baker, Montana, about 55 miles south of Glendive. Also Friday, attorneys for property owners damaged by the spill announced that Exxon Mobil agreed to pay the landowners $2 million to settle a civil lawsuit.

The landowners noted in their lawsuit that other pipeline owners with lines beneath the Yellowstone shut down during the July 2011 flood that broke the line. Authorities there are monitoring their water for signs of benzene contamination, as the spill has affected a river, the Yellowstone, which flows into the Missouri river, from which Williston draws its water supply.

In August of that year, federal regulators told Montana authorities that the line had “adequate cover.” But prior accidents, including a 2011 Exxon Mobil pipeline spill on the Yellowstone near Billings, have demonstrated that pipelines beneath bodies of water can quickly become exposed by floodwaters or other natural forces. The 2011 spill helped prompt a national debate over the adequacy of federal regulations for the nation’s sprawling, 2.6-million-mile network of gas and hazardous-liquid pipelines. That forced workers to dismantle equipment set up 60 miles downstream from the spill, where they had hoped to catch oil passing through a huge gash carved into the ice, said Jeni Garcin with the Montana Department of Environmental Quality.

Responders have so far recovered about 246 barrels of petroleum from the breached pipeline but cleanup efforts in the river have been hampered by the pooling of oil below thick layers of ice. Glendive water users were instructed Thursday evening on how to flush their taps of residual contamination in water lines, Bridger spokesman Bill Salvin said, adding that the company is prepared to continue to distribute bottled water to residents if necessary. To install its new section of pipeline, Bridger Pipeline would use a technique known as directional drilling – a process in which lines are drilled sometimes dozens of feet beneath a river through solid rock or other material considered more stable than the constantly shifting riverbed. The agency found that Exxon complied with federal regulations and did take steps ahead of time to prevent and mitigate a potential spill in the area, withdrawing one of its previous allegations against the company.

By Sunday, several Glendive residents had reported a funny odor and taste in their water, prompting authorities to advise them not to drink or cook with tap water. Mark Dayton is calling for more money for counselors, it is expected that school superintendents will oppose the plan because they want the money with no strings attached. Also on Friday, Exxon agreed to a $2 million settlement of claims relating to seven private properties impacted by the oil spill, said Jory Ruggiero, an attorney for the plaintiffs. “Exxon Mobil Pipeline Company committed to paying for the cleanup and all valid claims related to the incident. It is well past time that superintendents and administrators get over the notion that they aren’t accountable to taxpayers and the government that we elect.

At a town meeting last week, residents were upset that officials waited until Monday – two days after the spill – to inform them about it, the Billings Gazette reported. “I knew as soon as I smelled my water,” resident Jerry Geiger told a panel of representatives from local, state and federal agencies and Bridger Pipeline employees, according to the paper. Although I’m a Democrat and rather liberal, I’m increasingly disturbed by the attitude of many on the left that “there is plenty of money” to do all these things and that tough choices don’t have to be made. I sympathize with Zimmerman’s concerns for an institution he cares deeply about and understand why he would choose words that ease the realities of what has occurred in the Catholic Church. I recognize Zimmerman’s genuine concern for the financial health of the church, and he is correct in pointing out that good people are being adversely a ffected, but I would suggest that developing emotional, mental and spiritual health must be the first priority. “Mental illness treatment strategies shifting” (Jan. 20) points to a need to involve the ground troops more because there aren’t enough generals.

I have always valued the humane intervention by people out of the limelight who selflessly offer their experience and strength to aid in my recovery — countless nurses, case workers, coordinators, social workers and, most of all, my peers. Anyone who reads the newspaper knows that police officers kill people when they claim they felt “threatened.” Sending them to deal with a suicidal person with a gun is a prescription for disaster. Regarding the Jan. 23 article about the police shooting the house intruder in Blaine: I would like to thank the Coon Rapids officers who responded and courageously did what was needed to subdue the suspect.

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