A broken oil Pipeline on the Crow Indian Reservation in southeastern Montana leaked an unknown amount of crude. It may have been circulating for months before it was noticed, according to a tribe spokesman. According to Vernon Hill of Crow Disaster and Emergency Services, the spill was discovered earlier this week by a rancher monitoring his cows several miles east of Fort Smith in an isolated location near the Montana Wyoming border.
According to Hill, crude oil was visible on top of the earth in a deep valley that was roughly 15 yards (14 meters) broad and 100 yards (91 meters) long. He said, “It looked like it was this past winter when it broke. It was probably underneath the snow and the snow melted and they were able to see it.” Hill said federal officials and oil businesses operating in the area were notified, but he didn’t know if the leak had been stopped.
According to Hill, the leak occurred roughly three-quarters of a mile (1.2 kilometers) from Soap Creek and did not enter any waterways. Richard White Clay, a tribal member, said images taken by the rancher who discovered the leak appeared to show oil in a ravine that drains into Soap Creek and a hole made by a backhoe on the site filled with petroleum. One of the landowners affected, according to White Clay, is his niece.
On the Crow Reservation in 2013, a ruptured Phillips 66 Pipeline spilled up to 25,000 gallons (95,000 liters) of gasoline. In 1997, two previous breaks along the same Pipeline spilled a total of 97,000 gallons (368,000 liters). The breaks were blamed on shifting soil in each case. According to Hill, there were no evident indicators that the land in the location of the most recent leak had moved.