US, Montana seek damages from ExxonMobil Silvertip pipeline rupture

01 November 2013 17:54  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--ExxonMobil is working with federal and Montana state agencies to “pursue an amicable settlement”, a company spokesperson said on Friday, after the US-based energy giant was notified that they intend to seek natural resource damages from the July 2011 pipeline rupture into the Yellowstone River.

The US Department of Interior (DOI) and Montana Governor Steve Bullock announced on Thursday that they will begin to more specifically assess and quantify injuries and determine the compensation they will seek from ExxonMobil.

“ExxonMobil Pipeline Company regrets that the Silvertip Pipeline incident occurred and has worked cooperatively with the federal and state natural resource trustees in investigating the nature and extent of potential injuries to natural resources as a result of the spill,” said Amber Gardner, public and government affairs advisor at the company.

On 1 July 2011, ExxonMobil’s 12-inch (30-cm) diameter pipeline ruptured and discharged about 63,000 gal (238,000 litres) of crude oil into the Yellowstone River near Laurel, Montana.

Following the incident, several federal and state agencies were involved in an investigation on the short- and long-term effects of the spill and related clean-up efforts.

“Based upon this initial investigation, the state and DOI have now made a determination that both the discharged oil and the activities to clean up the oil caused injuries to the public’s natural resources, including fish and other aquatic organisms, birds (including migratory birds), wildlife, large woody debris piles, aquatic and terrestrial habitat, and the services provided by these natural resources, such as fishing and other human uses,”  they said in a joint statement.

In addition to the damage assessment, the agencies will prepare a restoration plan that will describe natural resource projects to restore the injured resources and compensate the public for their lost use.

Damages recovered for natural resource injuries and restoration are in addition to the $1.6m (€1.2m) fine levied in February 2012 for violations of the Montana Water Quality Act.

The US Department of Transportation (DOT) is also proposing a $1.7m civil penalty against ExxonMobil for a series of violations under the US Code.

($1 = €0.74)

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By: Tracy Dang
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