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Evacuation from Montana Oil Spill

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Billings, MTResidents near Laurel, Montana were temporarily evacuated Saturday morning after an ExxonMobile crude oil pipeline ruptured and caused an unknown amount of oil to spill into the waterway. The pipeline, which runs under the Yellowstone River near Billings in south-central Montana, apparently leaked for about 30 minutes.

According to Brent Peters, fire chief for Laurel, the 12-inch diameter pipe—which was buried six feet below the riverbed-- broke approximately one mile south of the city late Friday night, causing residents to be evacuated just after midnight in case of an explosion. By 6am Saturday everyone in Yellowstone County were able to return home.

Globs of oil have been seen rising to the surface of the river and on Saturday morning the oil slick was about 20 feet wide. One resident reported a “black smear of oil” about 600 feet long on his riverfront property.

A spokesperson for Exxon said the cause of the rupture is not yet known and the company is “working hard to address it”. The pipe was shut down and the company notified state and federal authorities. Two other oil refineries in the Billings area, Cenex Harvest Refinery and Conoco Phillips, also shut their pipes down.

In a statement released by the Associated Press, Exxon said it "deeply regrets this release and is working hard with local emergency authorities to mitigate the impacts of this release on the surrounding communities and to the environment.” ExxonMobil said it is sending a cleanup crew-- its North American Regional Response Team--within the next 36 hours.

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