Thanks Big Oil: Exxon Mobil Pipeline
As the Gulf coast is still recovering from BP's negligence of last year, it seems that we have a new oil spill crisis to contend with. Over the weekend, a 12 inch pipeline belonging to Exxon Mobil Pipeline Co. ruptured at the bottom of the Yellowstone River and has dumped tens of thousands of gallons into the waterway.
And as usual, damage estimates from the government and the oil company vary greatly. The state and federal government asserted that the damage was spread over dozens of miles but the company's estimate was far smaller. When criticized by Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer, the company then claimed that their statements were misconstrued and that crews would begin searching the shorelines for areas of pooled oil.
Landowners in the nearby area have contacted an Exxon hotline with concerns of oil contaminating their property and potential health concerns. Some even claim to have had to visit the emergency room to deal with breathing issues and nausea related to the oil fumes. One landowner, Alexis Bonogofsky, was diagnosed with acute hydrocarbon exposure according to her partner, Mike Scott.
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Exxon stated that air and water monitoring failed to reveal nay health risks but promised to provide the public with more information. The current estimate by Exxon is that about 1,000 barrels, or 42,000 gallons, of oil spilled into the river before the flow was stopped. To put this into perspective, take an eight ounce of water and spill it on a flat surface like a driveway or sidewalk. You might be amazed at how wide of an area this small amount of water can spread to. Look at that wet area, and now envision an area 672,000 times greater!!! This is the amount of space that has been impacted assuming that Exxon's estimate is correct and prior to taking into account that the oil slick will travel downstream.