Posted: Jul 15, 2013 7:36 PM by MTN News
HELENA - The Montana Land Board has approved a construction permit for Phillips 66 to build a new section of pipeline across the Yellowstone River.
State documents say that a survey conducted in 2011 found that the existing line was only covered by two to six feet of river bed.
Officials say Phillips 66 poured a concrete slab over the vulnerable line to prevent it from breaking; now the company wants to shut down this section and construct a new portion of pipeline just downstream.
The new line will be horizontally drilled and sit 40 feet underneath the river.
"From an environmental perspective the drilling of the new line is fairly benign and will reduce risks to the environment substantially," Montana Department of Natural Resources & Conservation director John Tubbs said.
The state wants Phillips 66 to remove the old line but the company says it's too expensive and there isn't enough time to get it done before water levels start to rise.
The DNRC is taking this opportunity to draft procedures for how old lines should be handled.
State officials say in past cases Phillips 66 has removed at least two of its old lines when they shut them off.
This project comes two years after Exxon's Silvertip pipeline broke in the Yellowstone River spilling 63,000 gallons of oil into the water. In that case Exxon was forced to remove its old line.