Montana Assesses Oil Spill In Yellowstone River

Originally published on July 6, 2011 6:59 am
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STEVE INSKEEP, Host:

Montana Public Radio's Emilie Ritter reports.

EMILIE RITTER: Cathy Williams and her husband own 800 acres of riverfront ranchland in Laurel, near the site of the broken pipe. Williams says her biggest concern right now is not being able to irrigate spring wheat and alfalfa crops.

CATHY WILLIAMS: It's definitely a huge, huge mess, and at our place, we have so much lowland that is wet and flooded that we haven't even been able to look at it yet to get to it.

RITTER: An Exxon Mobile claims adjuster toured her ranch on Tuesday. Williams believes her drinking water might be contaminated, and she's not sure what will happen to those spring crops if they can't be irrigated. The oil company has about 350 people on the ground for cleanup. President of Exxon Mobile pipeline company Gary Pruessing says he doesn't have an estimate on how much cleanup with cost.

GARY PRUESSING: Quite frankly, that is not our primary focus right now. Our focus is on making sure that we go out and find where the oil is and get out and clean it up.

RITTER: The state of Montana, not Exxon or the EPA, will determine when the Yellowstone River and surrounding areas are restored, says Governor Brian Schweitzer.

BRIAN SCHWEITZER: And we won't rest until remediation is complete along the Yellowstone River for this generation and all generations to come.

RITTER: For NPR News, I'm Emilie Ritter in Helena, Montana. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.