As Feds Set Cleanup Deadline, Exxon Under Fire

Montana governor says oil giant lied about scope of spill
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 9, 2011 10:07 AM CDT
Oil cleanup crew workers put on protective clothing before working along side the Yellowstone River in Laurel, Mont., Wednesday July 6, 2011.   (AP Photo/Jim Urquhart)
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(Newser) – Exxon Mobil had better clean up its act—and its 1000 barrels of crude currently spilled in the Yellowstone River. Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer has a litany of complaints that mostly boil down to the oil giant misleading state officials about the scope of the spill, and has yanked state workers from the cleanup effort even as he threatened to come down on the company. The pressure comes as the FDA set a two-month deadline for Exxon to have completed the cleanup, reports the Wall Street Journal. Exxon has agreed to the Sept. 9 deadline.

Schweitzer says Exxon lied when it said the ruptured pipeline was shut in six minutes; federal records show that figure was more like an hour. Exxon also initially said the spill had affected 10 miles of the river; 40 miles of it are described as "inundated," reports the New York Times. Schweitzer has written to Exxon, telling it, "‘Do not touch that pipeline without a State of Montana representative present,’” he said. “We want to see what happened and preserve evidence.” A neighbor and environmental activist says Exxon's is also dragging its heels: “They say there is all this cleanup happening, but people haven’t seen much," he says. Exxon, meanwhile, is apologetic: "We have apologized and continue to apologize, but there is no attempt to delay or misrepresent," says a rep.

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