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Yellowstone County's health department, Riverstone, also reported that there have been very few health concerns.
Water sampling conducted by EPA between Laurel and Miles City, MT indicates there are no petroleum hydrocarbons above drinking water levels standards in that region. Preliminary results indicate that the Yellowstone River opposes no threat to agriculture use. Prior sampling and ongoing monitoring indicate that the municipal drinking water supplies in these areas remain safe. Fully validated results will be on the EPA website within the next few days. EPA will be coordinating domestic well water testing and conducting indoor air sampling at residences impacted by the spill.
EPA is also directing and overseeing cleanup activities since arriving at the site. As of Thursday, July 7, approximately 544 personnel are involved in the incident response and over 360 are in the field conducting cleanup operations and recovering oil. Personnel continue to walk the shores and deploy absorbent boom along the river banks to absorb oil that has collected in slow water areas along the shoreline. While most of the oil has been encountered within 30 miles of the spill, a pocket of emulsified oil has been spotted approximately 80 miles downstream. No evidence of visible oil staining or emulsified oil has sighted beyond this point during ground and aerial reconnaissance to Miles City.
On July 6, EPA issued an order to ExxonMobil, pursuant to the Clean Water Act, directing the company to take a number of clean-up and restoration activities as a result of an oil spill into the Yellowstone River. EPA will continue in Sits role in directing and overseeing the cleanup and restoration of the river and ensuring the protection of human health and the environment.
EPA is coordinating its response actions with the Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service and state and local agencies and will take whatever steps are necessary to ensure ExxonMobil, as the responsible party, addresses any and all potential impacts of this spill. In addition, the U.S. Department of Transportation's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration is responsible for determining the cause of the pipeline failure and has been onsite since Saturday.
Riverstone says, "small number of health concerns..."
BILLINGS, MT – Since the beginning hours of recovery from the Silvertip Pipeline oil spill, the Unified Health Command (UHC) of Yellowstone County (RiverStone Health, Billings Clinic, St. Vincent Healthcare and Yellowstone County Disaster and Emergency Services) has been working with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), ExxonMobil and the Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to protect the health and safety of the community. Information is readily being shared and public’s health monitored for adverse affects from the spill. To-date, very few health concerns have been reported and there have been no hospitalizations related to the spill.
“Our community has been impacted by a very unfortunate event,” said John Felton, Yellowstone County Health Officer and President& CEO of RiverStone Health, the county’s public health agency. “The public’s health is our number one priority and if anyone is experiencing adverse health effects that may be related to the oil spill, they should seek medical attention and call the oil spill information line at 1-888-382-0043 so that their concern can be documented.”
The small number of health concerns thus far have been primarily related to headaches and breathing difficulties. In addition, odor from the oil spill has also been a concern. “As the clean-up efforts continue, we expect odors to become less noticeable, but realize that we all have different sensitivities,” said Felton. “Just as some people are more sensitive to skunk spray or perfumes, some people will be sensitive to the odors related to the spill.”
The EPA has been sampling the air and water and results indicate that direct readings for certain compounds have been undetectable. For more information on the EPA’s efforts go to http://epa.gov/yellowstoneriverspill
The UHC continues to recommend that residents not clean-up oil on their property. Specially trained workers are handling that task. Keep your family and pets away from oil-contaminated areas and if you do come in contact with oil, wash immediately with soap and water or a cleanser designed to remove grease.
The UHC will continue to monitor the public’s health as the clean-up continues. As more information becomes available and/or if conditions change, the UHC will post information on member websites and notify the community of recent developments.
The Big Sky Business Journal
P.O. Box 3262
Billings, MT 59103