Yellowstone Waters Swell as Oil Spill Spreads

Exxon admits contamination beyond 10-mile zone

By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff

Posted Jul 5, 2011 7:56 AM CDT

(Newser) Exxon Mobil's Montana oil spill cleanup faces a big hurdle today as the swollen Yellowstone River peaks at Billings this afternoon. The rising water means that areas already cleaned may be re-contaminated, and the AP reports that Exxon officials acknowledged under fire yesterday that the scope of the disaster was at least five miles beyond the 10-mile radius it initially said was affected. "We're not limiting the scope of our cleanup to the immediate site," said Exxon CEO Gary Pruessing. "We are not trying to suggest in any way that that's the limit of exposure."

Pressure is mounting on Exxon as allegations surface that it ignored potential safety problems with the line, which was likely ruptured by objects in the flooding river scraping it. Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer is calling for a review of all pipelines in the vicinity of water, reports the LA Times. "We'll make the decision over the next couple of days whether to shut off some pipelines," Schweitzer said. "The last thing I want is for another pipeline to break."

Jim Swanson surveys the oil impact on his property in Laurel, Mont., Tuesday July 4, 2011.
Jim Swanson surveys the oil impact on his property in Laurel, Mont., Tuesday July 4, 2011.   (AP Photo/Jim Urquhart)
Jim Swanson crosses through caution tape on his property in Laurel, Mont., Tuesday July 4, 2011.
Jim Swanson crosses through caution tape on his property in Laurel, Mont., Tuesday July 4, 2011.   (AP Photo/Jim Urquhart)
Clean up crews work to collect oil from along side the Yellowstone River in Laurel, Mont., Monday July 4, 2011.
Clean up crews work to collect oil from along side the Yellowstone River in Laurel, Mont., Monday July 4, 2011.   (AP Photo/Jim Urquhart)
Clean up crews work to collect oil from along side the Yellowstone River in Laurel, Mont., Monday July 4, 2011.
Clean up crews work to collect oil from along side the Yellowstone River in Laurel, Mont., Monday July 4, 2011.   (AP Photo/Jim Urquhart)
Clean up crews use an absorbent boom to collect oil from along side the Yellowstone River in Laurel, Mont., Monday, July 4, 2011.
Clean up crews use an absorbent boom to collect oil from along side the Yellowstone River in Laurel, Mont., Monday, July 4, 2011.   (AP Photo/Jim Urquhart)
Clean up crews work to collect oil from along side the Yellowstone River in Laurel, Mont., Monday July 4, 2011.
Clean up crews work to collect oil from along side the Yellowstone River in Laurel, Mont., Monday July 4, 2011.   (AP Photo/Jim Urquhart)
An Exxon Mobil contractors mops up oil along the Yellowstone River near Laurel, Mont. on Monday, July 4,2011. An estimated 1,000 barrels of oil spilled from a ruptured pipeline underneath the river.
An Exxon Mobil contractors mops up oil along the Yellowstone River near Laurel, Mont. on Monday, July 4,2011. An estimated 1,000 barrels of oil spilled from a ruptured pipeline underneath the river.   (AP Photo/Matthew Brown)
Jim Swanson talks about the oil impact on his property in Laurel, Mont., Tuesday July 4, 2011. An ExxonMobil pipeline ruptured and spilled an estimated 1,000 barrels of crude into the Yellowstone.
Jim Swanson talks about the oil impact on his property in Laurel, Mont., Tuesday July 4, 2011. An ExxonMobil pipeline ruptured and spilled an estimated 1,000 barrels of crude into the Yellowstone.   (AP Photo/Jim Urquhart)
Oil soaked leaves are seen on property owned by Jim Swanson Monday July 4, 2011, in Laurel, Mont.
Oil soaked leaves are seen on property owned by Jim Swanson Monday July 4, 2011, in Laurel, Mont.   (AP Photo/Jim Urquhart)
Exxon Mobil Pipeline Co. president Gary Pruessing holds a news conference on Monday July 4,2011, at a house along the Yellowstone River near Laurel, Mont.
Exxon Mobil Pipeline Co. president Gary Pruessing holds a news conference on Monday July 4,2011, at a house along the Yellowstone River near Laurel, Mont.   (AP Photo/Matthew Brown)
Jim Swanson surveys the oil impact on his property in Laurel, Mont., Monday, July 4, 2011. An ExxonMobil pipeline near Laurel ruptured and spilled an estimated 1,000 barrels of crude into the Yellowstone.
Jim Swanson surveys the oil impact on his property in Laurel, Mont., Monday, July 4, 2011. An ExxonMobil pipeline near Laurel ruptured and spilled an estimated 1,000 barrels of crude into the Yellowstone.   (AP Photo/Jim Urquhart)
Exxon Mobil contractors put absorbent sheets over oil that came into the backyard of a home along the Yellowstone River near Laurel, Mont., on Monday, July 4, 2011.
Exxon Mobil contractors put absorbent sheets over oil that came into the backyard of a home along the Yellowstone River near Laurel, Mont., on Monday, July 4, 2011.   (AP Photo/Matthew Brown)
Exxon Mobil contractors put absorbent sheets on oil that came into the backyard of a home along the Yellowstone River near Laurel, Mont. on Monday, July 4, 2011.
Exxon Mobil contractors put absorbent sheets on oil that came into the backyard of a home along the Yellowstone River near Laurel, Mont. on Monday, July 4, 2011.   (AP Photo/Matthew Brown)
Oil from a ruptured ExxonMobil pipeline is seen in the Yellowstone River and along its banks near Laurel, Mont., Saturday, July 2, 2011.
Oil from a ruptured ExxonMobil pipeline is seen in the Yellowstone River and along its banks near Laurel, Mont., Saturday, July 2, 2011.   (AP Photo/Matthew Brown)
Oil swirls in a flooded gravel pit in Lockwood, Mont. after a pipeline break early Saturday, July 2, 2011.
Oil swirls in a flooded gravel pit in Lockwood, Mont. after a pipeline break early Saturday, July 2, 2011.   (AP Photo/The Billings Gazette, Casey Page)
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