An oil spill of unknown size and duration has been reported on the Crow Indian Reservation, Montana Free Press reports.
Richard Mylott, a spokesperson for Area 8 of the Environmental Protection Agency, said he understood the spill was from a collection line, a pipeline used to transport crude oil from a wellhead at a central collection point. Gathering lines generally carry a lower volume of oil than transmission lines. He said there is currently no known impact or threat to surface waters.
“The EPA will continue to monitor the reports and respond to any request or need for assistance,” he said.
According to DrillingEdge, which compiles information on oil and gas wells, Soap Creek Associates, Inc., has 31 operational wells in the area of the reported spill. These wells produced 3,100 barrels of oil last January.
Montana Free Press first learned of the spill through communication with Richard White Clay, who has been active with the Crow Allottee Association, an organization that advocates on behalf of landowners on the Crow reservation. He said another member of the association with a subdivision near Soap Creek reported the spill to him.
“They found an oil spill in their creek and they sent photos,” he said.
the National pipeline mapping system shows that there was an incident involving a pipeline carrying a hazardous liquid between Lodge Grass and Fort Smith. According to the SNGP, there are four pipeline operators with pipeline oversight in Big Horn County: Cenex Pipeline, LLC; WBI Energy Transmission, Inc .; Northwestern Corporation; and Phillips 66 Pipeline, LLC. It is not known whether any of these companies are operating the collection line that is believed to be the source of the spill.
In an email to the MTFP on Tuesday morning, Clifford Serawop, superintendent of the Crow Agency office of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, said BIA land staff would respond to the incident.
“Even though this is allocated land, it is still land that is held in trust, so we want to make sure we take care of it,” Serawop said.
Allocated lands confer ownership to a landowner with restrictions on its transfer and use. Land is held in trust for tribal members by the federal government.
Montana Department of Environmental Quality spokeswoman Moira Davin said DEQ was aware of the spill, but was not acting as responsible for a response.
“It looks like the EPA and the reservation staff will be primarily responsible,” she said.
Emails to the Crow Tribe media account and appeals to Vernon Hill, who works with the tribe’s Disaster Emergency Services division, were not returned on press time Wednesday morning .