Documents Show Exxon Took Twice As Long As Claimed To Plug Yellowstone Leak

Federal documents are revealing that ExxonMobil took nearly twice as long as the company publicly disclosed to seal a broken oil pipeline before it spilled an estimated 1000 barrels of crude oil into the Yellowstone River over the weekend. Andrew Schneider has more.

Documents obtained by the Associated Press show it took ExxonMobil almost an hour to seal the pipeline under the Yellowstone and stop the flow of crude into the river. An Exxon executive told Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer yesterday that it had only taken thirty minutes.

The federal documents also show the oil company told concerned regulators a month before the line break that the pipeline was 12 feet beneath the riverbed.

Details about ExxonMobil’s actions leading up to the Friday night spill emerged as the Department of Transportation ordered the company to bury the 12-inch pipeline more deeply. The cause of the pipeline’s failure remains under investigation, but the prevailing theory is that the raging river eroded the riverbed and exposed the line to damage from debris.

Bio photo of Andrew Schneider

Andrew Schneider

Business Reporter

Andrew Schneider joined KUHF in January 2011, after more than a decade as a print reporter for The Kiplinger Letter...